TIME Emerging Markets

Forget the BRICs; Meet the PINEs

University student interns monitor trading at the Philippine Stock Exchange in Manila's Makati financial district
University interns monitor trading at the Philippine Stock Exchange in the financial district of Makati, Philippines, on Feb. 7, 2014 Erik de Castro—Reuters

While many emerging markets are taking a beating, a fantastic growth story in the developing world is widening and drawing in new countries

Emerging markets are taking a beating these days, most of all the famous BRIC economies ­— Brazil, Russia, India and China. These four once seemed poised to dominate a post-American world. Not anymore. Brazil and India are posting growth rates that are only a fraction of what they were a couple of years ago. Russia’s prospects, already hampered by an overbearing state, are unlikely to improve as its aggressive moves into Ukraine could force Europe and the U.S. to impose economic sanctions. Even mighty China, while still notching admirable growth, must confront rising debt and a distorted financial system. The supremacy of the emerging world suddenly seems very far off.

But look past these headline grabbers, and you’ll find other emerging economies continuing to show economic strength. So for now, forget the BRICs; take a look at the PINEs. The PINE economies are the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria and Ethiopia. I have to confess I made up this acronym, and I fear it isn’t quite as catchy as BRIC. But I’m trying to make a point here. What the PINEs represent is something very important for the future of the global economy and quest to alleviate poverty. The PINEs are all performing very well right now, and that shows that the advance of emerging economies is far from over. In fact, the fantastic growth story in the developing world is widening and deepening, drawing in countries and regions that had previously been left out.

Take, for instance, the Philippines. When most of East Asia emerged from colonial rule after World War II, the Philippines was considered one of the new countries with the greatest potential for development. Sadly, things didn’t turn out that way. As much of the rest of East Asia zoomed ahead on its economic miracle, the Philippines got left behind. Millions of Filipinos were forced to search for jobs around the world, creating a diaspora from Hong Kong to Dubai. Now, though, the Philippines has become one of the region’s best performers. Even after getting smashed by Typhoon Haiyan last year, GDP still surged by 7.2%, and the IMF expects the country to post similar rates over the next several years.

(MORE: The BRICs Have Hit a Wall)

Indonesia has staged a comeback as well. Though the Southeast Asian giant had been a strong performer in the past (during the early 1990s, for instance), political upheaval and regional conflicts scared off investors, especially after its 1997 financial crisis. But now Indonesia has returned to the ranks of the world’s most desirable emerging economies, thanks to a stable democracy and a burgeoning consumer market. Foreign direct investment increased a hefty 17% last year. Though the stampede from emerging markets after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled it would scale back its stimulus efforts pummeled the country’s currency, and growth dipped a bit last year, the economy is still forecast to growth at about 6% annually over the next several years.

The strong performances of Nigeria and Ethiopia are even more exciting. Africa generally stood on the sidelines while Asia and other parts of the developing world experienced giant gains in welfare over the past half-century, but now, finally, the continent seems to be joining the party. Nigeria is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa and has long been seen as a potential economic heavyweight, and now that a more stable government is implementing some much needed reform, investors are flocking into the nation. Ethiopia may be even more exciting. Once synonymous with poverty, peace and strong economic management have turned the nation around. The International Monetary Fund sees growth in the 7% range in the coming years for both countries, and there’s even talk of a group of “lion economies” rising up in the same way the “tigers” of Asia did in the late 20th century.

There are, of course, risks that these countries will falter, if politics or corruption gets in the way. And though the advance of the PINEs may not have the same global impact as the BRICs —­ China and India are so big they’re in a class by themselves —­ the PINEs still represent a major opportunity for international companies to invest, expand and find new customers. The PINEs, after all, have a combined population of about 600 million people. So don’t be too quick to dismiss the emerging-markets story. The meek may yet inherit the world.

MORE: Viewpoint: How Elections Could Impact Five Emerging Economies

TIME Pope Franics

Pope Francis Celebrates a Year of Change at the Vatican

Pope Francis holds his weekly general audience on March 5, 2014 at St. Peter's square in Vatican City.
Pope Francis holds his weekly general audience on March 5, 2014 at St. Peter's square in Vatican City. Andreas Solara—AFP/Getty Images

A year after becoming the first non-European pope in more than a millennium, the Argentine pontiff continues to challenge the status quo. That's evident again in his choice to celebrate his first year, untraditionally, outside the walls of the Holy See

Pope Francis has spent his first year in office challenging Vatican custom and the he’ll celebrate the anniversary of his papacy in the same fashion, as the first pope in decades to mark the occasion outside the Vatican walls.

The first non-European pope in more than a millennium will spend the week of preaching and prayer at a retreat with the Roman Curia in a small town 15 miles from the Vatican. The decision to break with tradition by leading the Curia—the Vatican bureaucracy—outside the Holy See for his one-year anniversary evokes Francis’ efforts to reform a church he has criticized for being too insular.

The Vatican has also marked Francis’ first year in office with the release of an e-book that compiles quotations from the pope’s first year in office.

In the 12 months since he succeeded the conservative and tradition-bound Pope Benedict, Francis hasn’t shied from challenging Vatican rules and Catholic custom. He travels in a Ford Focus rather than the papal limousine; he lives in the Vatican hotel rather than the Vatican’s papal apartments; he raised traditionalist eyebrows when, on a flight after a visit to Brazil, he was asked his opinion on homosexuality and answered, “Who am I to judge?” The Argentine-born pope—and TIME’s 2014 Person of the Year—has imbued his office with rare rock star status. He has initiated a profound change in style—if not always in underlying substance—at the Vatican that many believe is reinvigorating the world’s largest religion.

TIME Turkey

Protests Rock Turkey as Thousands Attend Teenager’s Istanbul Funeral

The coffin of Berkin Elvan is carried on March 11, 2014, in Istanbul. Berkin Elvan, who has been in a coma since June 2013 after being struck in the head by a gas canister during a police crackdown on protesters, died earlier on the day.
The coffin of Berkin Elvan is carried on March 11, 2014, in Istanbul. Berkin Elvan, who has been in a coma since June 2013 after being struck in the head by a gas canister during a police crackdown on protesters, died earlier on the day. Bulent Kilic—AFP/Getty Images

Demonstrations erupted across the country after Berkin Elvan, 15, the boy who fell into a coma after being struck by a police tear gas canister fired at close range, died following a 269-day battle to stay alive

Barricades smoldered. Stones and debris littered the streets. Protesters stumbled into shops, cafés and private apartments to flee clouds of tear gas, while parts of Istanbul’s city center resonated with the sound of pitched battles between demonstrators and riot police. The scenes that played out in Turkey’s biggest city on Wednesday didn’t just remind its residents of last summer’s anti-government protests; they also reminded many of them that the grievances that fueled those protests, far from fading away, had since multiplied.

Technically speaking, the unrest that erupted last June, which began in downtown Istanbul and spread across Turkey, had never come to a complete halt. Over the past months, neighborhoods in a number of western Turkish cities, including Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara, have seen demonstrations against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a regular basis, albeit on a much smaller scale.

The event that sparked Wednesday’s protests, the latest and biggest since last summer, was the death of a boy.

On June 16, at the height of the Gezi Park clashes, Berkin Elvan, 14 at the time, stepped out of his house in Istanbul’s Okmeydani district to buy bread from a nearby store. Moments later, he was struck in the head by a police tear gas canister fired at close range.

This Tuesday, after 269 days in a coma, having withered away, he died. His bodyweight had dropped to 35 pounds.

On Wednesday, the day of his funeral, tens of thousands of people swarmed a wide avenue in Istanbul’s Sisli district to accompany the young man’s coffin to a nearby cemetery. Some of the mourners carried carnations, others brought along pictures of the smiling, unibrowed Elvan. A few carried loaves of bread: one man had inserted a tear gas canister into his.

Last summer’s chants mixed in with those borne of a more recent political crisis. “Killer police,” yelled some protesters. “Thief,” others shouted, alluding to a corruption scandal that first boiled to the surface in mid-December, ensnaring Erdogan and a number of government ministers in the process.

As the cortège moved through Sisli, a stronghold of the main opposition party, en route to the cemetery, women leaned out of neighboring buildings, banging on pots and pans. Passersby applauded. Banners of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), prepared ahead of the coming local elections, lay on the ground, some of them set aflame.

On the side of the road, surrounded by a flock of photographers, stood Sirri Sureyya Onder. A politician from a small leftist party, Onder had become one of the leading figures in last year’s protests after standing his ground against a bulldozer dispatched to clear trees from Gezi Park. He had come, he said, to proclaim “the savage killing of a defenseless child cannot go unpunished.” Of Erdogan, he simply said, “He will be judged.”

In recent days, Turkish President Abdullah Gul and a number of government ministers had expressed their condolences to the Elvan family. Erdogan has yet to do so.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said an investigation had been launched into the young boy’s death. “Whoever is responsible for the young boy’s death or whoever was negligent in the series of events that led to his death will be revealed,” he said. But a statement issued on Tuesday by Human Rights Watch complained that “no effective investigation” had been carried out into Elvan’s killing “or for the serious head injuries incurred by dozens of others.”

The Wednesday protests were to claim their own victims. Late at night Turkish media reported that Ahmet Kucuktag, a police officer, had died of a heart attack induced by tear gas at another protest in the eastern province of Tunceli. Another man was killed in armed clashes between residents and protesters in Kurtulus, an Istanbul neighborhood.

On the way back from Elvan’s funeral, with police squadrons blocking the road leading to the main city square on which the mourners intended to march, clashes broke out. Amidst a hail of tear gas and rubber bullets, people scrambled to find shelter in shops and apartment buildings. A young woman ran into the lobby of a residential building, reeling from the effects of the tear gas, and passed out. On the other side of the street, a group of people huddled inside a kebab shop. Outside, men wearing gas masks lobbed stones at the riot police. Flames rose from behind barricades.

About a mile south, police trucks mounted with water cannons roared up and down Istiklal Avenue, the city’s main promenade, sending protesters and dazed tourists alike scurrying into the side streets. Every once in a while, the police came under a hail of rocks, bottles and fireworks. A waiter, his eyes red from the tear gas, commiserated with the mourners, he said, but complained that a new wave of protests threatened to ruin his restaurant and other businesses in the neighborhood.

Yildiray Yilmaz, a shopkeeper in his 40s, a white surgical mask dangling from his left ear, stormed down the street, stopping in front of every group of riot police he encountered. “Don’t be the AKP’s police, you’re supposed to be the people’s police,” he yelled at them. “They may be gone one day, but we’re here to stay.”

TIME diplomacy

U.S. Judge Dismisses Charges Against Indian Diplomat

INDIA-US-DIPLOMACY
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, center, accompanied by her father Uttam Khobragade, arrives at the domestic airport in Mumbai on Jan. 14, 2014. Punit Paranjpe—AFP/Getty Images

A federal judge dismisses charges against Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade after her strip search sparked an international uproar against the U.S.

A U.S. federal judge on Wednesday dismissed charges against an Indian diplomat whose arrest and strip-search sparked public outcry in India.

In the original indictment, prosecutors alleged Devyani Khobragade fraudulently obtained a work visa for her maid and lied on an official document about how much the maid was paid, the Associated Press reports. Prosecutors allege the maid was compensated less than $3 per hour.

“The judge did what the law required, and that is: that a criminal proceeding against an individual with immunity must be dismissed,” the diplomat’s attorney said. “She’s (Khobragade’s) hugely frustrated by what has occurred. She is heartened that the rule of law prevailed.”

After her arrest Khobragade complied with an order from the State Department that she leave the U.S. A U.S. diplomat was subsequently withdrawn from India at that country’s request.

[AP]

TIME MH370

Satellite Images Point to Possible Crash Site for Missing Jet

CHINA-VIETNAM-MALAYSIA-MALAYSIAAIRLINES-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT
A satellite image of what the Chinese government said is a possible crash site near the Gulf of Thailand for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished on Saturday CCRSD—AFP / Getty Images

A series of satellite images released by the Chinese government may offer the first solid leads in the 5-day hunt for a vanished Malaysia Airlines 777

The Chinese government released satellite images Wednesday that it said might show the location where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 crashed, according to state media, a potential but unconfirmed clue of happened to the jet five days after it vanished without a trace.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the images released by China’s State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense show “a suspected plane crash at sea,” CNN reports. The agency announced it discovered “three suspected floating objects and their sizes” on Sunday but waited until Wednesday to release the information, the Associated Press reports. The location —near the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea—coincides with the presumed flight path the Boeing 777 was taking from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing before it disappeared from radar on Saturday with 239 people on board.

The days-long search effort has yielded little in the way of clues so far, and it was impossible to immediately verify if the Chinese images are of the actual crash site. Though the site is near the presumed flight path, the Malaysian military said Tuesday that the jet had veered wildly off course. The objects discovered at sea are 13 meters by 18 meters, 14 meters by 19 meters, and 24, meters by 22 meters, according to state media.

The Malaysian military in a Wednesday press conference confirmed reports it recorded but disregarded radar data over the weekend that may be related to the missing jet. While those readings showing a potential unidentified aircraft could’ve triggered a sortie to identity the source of the signals, the Malaysian military took no such action, per the New York Times.

The flight never sent out a distress signal before it went missing. Apart from the possible evidence in the Chinese satellite images, a massive and still-growing international search effort has thus far found no concrete trace of the airliner. Families of the passengers have been stuck in a painful limbo since the disappearance.

Update: This story was updated at 9:24 p.m. ET to include a reference to the Malaysian military’s unconfirmed radar sightings.

TIME Ukraine

Armed Cossacks Flock to Crimea to Help Russian Annexation Bid

Cossacks guard the local parliament building in Crimea's capital Simferopol, March 6, 2014.
Cossacks guard the local parliament building in Crimea's capital Simferopol on March 6, 2014 Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME

Armed groups of Cossacks from across the area are flocking to the disputed region to help Moscow wrest it from Ukraine in hopes they'll be rewarded by being integrated into Russia's primary security apparatus after the takeover is complete

On Monday morning, about 150 Cossack officers got together in Crimea, the breakaway region of Ukraine, and lined up in formation on the central square of the regional capital Simferopol. Bundled up against the winds that blew in that day from the Black Sea, they made for a sorry sight, disheveled and grumpy, like a reunion of elderly veterans kitted out in old, mismatching camouflage gear. But their commander, Vladimir Cherkashin, stood before them in a leather jacket and military cap to say their fortunes were about to change.

Next week, a referendum on Crimea’s independence from Ukraine will open the door for Russia to annex the entire Crimean Peninsula, and for the local Cossack paramilitary groups, that marks the opportunity of a lifetime. It would mean a chance to be integrated into the Russian security forces — just like their Cossack brothers to the east have been under Russian President Vladimir Putin. “That means state recognition, it means training for our cadets,” Cherkashin explained to his Cossack commanders, who are known as atamans. “It’s status. You understand? It’s all about finances!” At this, the group of men looked around at one another and grumbled in approval. Then, at Cherkashin’s command, they shouted the celebratory Cossack salute — “Lyubo!”

For the past two weeks, the Cossacks — a caste of warriors who have guarded the borders of the Russian empire for centuries — have played a key role in the Russian occupation of Crimea. They have manned checkpoints on its highways, guarded the headquarters of its separatist government, patrolled the streets with their ceremonial whips in hand and are now helping build and defend fortifications on the de facto Crimean border with Ukraine. Through it all, they have had ample help from Russia’s professional and state-sponsored Cossack forces, who have come by the thousands to defend what they see as historically Russian lands.

“Cossacks have no borders,” said Nikolai Pervakov, the first deputy commander of Russia’s Kuban Cossack legion, who is leading their mission to Crimea from his usual base of operations in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar. Appearing on the square alongside Cherkashin on Monday, he told TIME that a few thousand of his men have come to Crimea from Russia, all with the express approval of the Kremlin. After inspecting the bedraggled ranks of his Crimean comrades, Pervakov gave a short speech on their fraternal ties. “We are a united people, people of the same faith, traditions, customs. Our lives are linked,” he told them. “So we need to be like a clenched and monolithic fist. Only then will we have victory.”

The links that bind Cossacks around the world can be mystifying for outsiders and hard to pin down. They are largely Slavic but come from many other ethnic groups as well, and they speak various languages. Some are born Cossacks while others are initiated into their martial traditions. Their zealous devotion to the Orthodox Christian religion tends to unite them, although different Cossack groups follow different denominations of that faith. Through history, they have rebelled against the Russian empire and marched alongside its armies to fight common enemies, including the Turks, the British and the Khans of Central Asia. Conflicts and upheavals have scattered them for centuries around the world, and there are vibrant communities of Cossacks as far afield as New Jersey, where their ancestors wound up after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 tried to purge them from the Soviet Union. But what unites the Cossacks in Crimea with their allies in Russia today is a common belief that Moscow should command the Slavic world, most crucially including eastern and southern Ukraine.

For the Cossacks of Crimea, that victory could mark a total transformation. Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine’s succession of leaders, regardless of whether they leaned toward Russia or the West, have treated the local Crimean Cossacks with great suspicion. Their commanders in Crimea have spread militant notions of Slavic unity among their young cadets. All of that has attracted scrutiny from Ukraine’s security services in recent years. Under the rule of President Viktor Yanukovych, a Russia-leaning leader who was deposed in a revolution last month, Crimea’s leading Cossacks were investigated for training paramilitary groups and speaking out in support of separatism, both of which are illegal in Ukraine. Some of them have had their Cossack training camps raided by police in search of weapons. Others have been deported to Russia on charges of inciting ethnic hatred.

All of that stands in stark contrast to the lives of their fellow Cossacks in Russia. In 2005, Putin signed a law called “On the State Service of the Russian Cossacks,” which gave them the status of a state-backed militia, complete with government paychecks. Under that law, Putin, in his role as commander in chief, is the only one who can assign someone the rank of Cossack general. Other officer ranks in the Cossack hierarchy, which is distinct from the rest of the Russian military’s pecking order, must be approved by the Kremlin Council for Cossack Affairs. That law also granted more than 600,000 officially registered Cossacks in Russia the rights to fulfill various functions usually controlled by the state. This includes the right to defend border regions, guard national forests, organize military training for young cadets, fight terrorism, protect local government buildings and administrative sites and provide the vague service of “defending social order.”

It seemed to be in the latter capacity that they patrolled the streets of Sochi during last month’s Winter Olympic Games, even greeting arrivals in the airport terminal dressed in their signature lambskin hats and knee-high leather boots. Vladimir Davydov, a local Cossack officer and a member of the Sochi city council, saw the Games as a historic chance to demonstrate the usefulness of Cossacks to the Kremlin. “Our entire history we have served the sovereign, the motherland,” he told TIME a few weeks before the Games began. “Now that role is restored.” If the Kremlin calls on them, he said, the Cossacks can field a force of 50,000 armed irregulars in the region surrounding Sochi. “The Olympics will be our chance to prove our worth.”

Throughout the Games, they seemed to do that with flying colors, though not without one appalling show of force. On Feb. 19, a few days before the closing ceremony of the Games, a group of activists from the protest group Pussy Riot tried to film an anti-Putin music video in Sochi. But just as the young women pulled on their colorful balaclavas and started dancing around, a group of uniformed Cossacks ran up to them, sprayed them in the face with pepper spray, hit them with whips, yanked them by the hair and dragged them away kicking and screaming. Under current Ukrainian law, that kind of attack would have gotten the Cossacks arrested for battery. In Russia, even during the Olympics, it was part of their paid service to the state.

The allure of becoming a formally recognized militia force seems to have made Crimea’s Cossacks even more gung ho about the Russian annexation of their peninsula. “Our priority right now is to make sure the referendum goes as planned,” Cherkashin told me on March 9, just after he held a meeting with the new de facto leader of Crimea, the separatist prime minister Sergei Aksyonov. Watching Russian state TV in a waiting area outside Aksyonov’s office that afternoon, Cherkashin said Cossack volunteers from across Russia and the former Soviet Union have been offering to come help Crimea break away from Ukraine. “These two Cossacks in Armenia called me on Skype the other day,” he said. “They held two Kalashnikovs in front of the camera and said they’re ready to ride.”

But Cherkashin, who is also a member of the Crimean parliament, has had to decline most of these offers. Flooding the peninsula with various Cossack vigilantes would not be good for “keeping order,” he said, and besides, they have enough support from Pervakov and the Kuban Cossack legion as it is. After the morning lineup on the square in Simferopol, the highest-ranking commanders walked over to a nearby church — The Cathedral of Holy Mary Magdalene, Equal to the Apostles — for a private powwow. It began with a blessing from a local priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, Vitali Liskevich, who prayed for the Lord to defend the righteous mission of the Cossacks in Crimea. After that, Pervakov, the Cossack envoy from Russia, walked into the hall with a sheaf of papers, and this reporter was asked to leave the room.

TIME diplomacy

Obama Says Crimea Crisis Can’t Be Resolved ‘With a Gun Pointed’ at Ukraine

President Barack Obama, right, with Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, left, talk in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington
President Barack Obama, right, with Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, left, talk in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, March 12, 2014. Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP

In a joint appearance with the new Ukrainian leader, President Obama urged Russia to accept a diplomatic resolution to the standoff over Crimea

President Barack Obama joined the new leader of Ukraine on Wednesday in emphasizing that the United States stands with the country in its simmering conflict with Russia, and that a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Crimea is the best way forward.

“There’s another path available and we hope President Putin is willing to seize that path,” Obama said during an appearance at the White House with interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. “But if he does not, I’m very confident that the international community will stand firmly behind the Ukrainian government.”

With Russian troops controlling the Crimea region of Ukraine and Crimea preparing to vote on a referendum to split from Ukraine, Obama said the new government in Kiev remains open to negotiations with Moscow “that could lead to a different arrangement for the Crimean region, but that is not something that could be done with a gun pointed at you.”

Obama called on Congress to act swiftly in passing a $1-billion loan guarantee to help support Ukraine’s fragile economy, which has teetered in the aftermath of the uprising that led to the ouster of the former Kremlin-allied president Viktor Yanukovych. A Senate committee voted late Wednesday to approve an aid package that still needs to go before the full body for a vote.

Seated next to Obama, Yatsenyuk called on Russia to work through diplomatic channels to resolve the standoff.

“Mr. President, it’s all about freedom,” he said. “We fight for our freedom, we fight for our independence, we fight for our sovereignty and we will never surrender.”

In conjunction with talks held Wednesday, the Obama administration announced a deepening of the “strategic partnership” with Ukraine on issues including energy, science, nuclear security and non-proliferation. Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs Carlos Pascual will visit Kiev this month in an effort to improve energy efficiency and the development of alternative energy sources in Ukraine, which has been heavily dependent on Russian energy subsidies and resources.

TIME Food

Europe’s War on American Cheese

Feta cheese is seen on display in a delicatessen store in Sa
Graham Barclay—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The E.U. has Wisconsin feta in its crosshairs

Blessed are the geographically accurate cheese makers. In an attempt to defend and expand its piece of the growing global cheese market, the European Union wants the United States to ban the use of certain cheese names that have become ubiquitous for consumers.

The proposal, part of ongoing E.U./U.S. trade talks, would ban American cheese makers from using terms like parmesan, asiago, feta, gruyere, gorgonzola, fontina, romano and others that refer to European regions from which those cheeses originate. Domestic cheese producers would be forced to drop those names and rebrand their products, potentially ceding a major edge to their European competitors in booming international markets like Asia.

“It’s a clever trade barrier,” says John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. “There would be a lot of uphill work to do for cheese makers to convince consumers that their ‘salty white cheese in brine’ is feta. They would have to market it all over again.”

The widespread usage of European names has been an issue since the mid-1990s, when the E.U. released its geographical indication registry, which sought to restrict some category names to the regions most associated with them, like Scotland and Scotch whisky or France’s Champagne region for the eponymous sparkling wine. In 2012 the E.U. further shored up its exclusive claim to certain foods when it signed a free trade agreement with South Korea that blocked feta cheese made outside of Greece and asiago, fontina and gorgonzola made outside of Italy from being sold in South Korea.

“That was certainly a big wake-up call for us,” says Shawna Morris, senior director for the Consortium for Common Food Names, a Washington lobbying group formed by U.S. milk producers and dairy exporters to fight the E.U. proposals. Morris says her group is focused on what she believes is E.U. overreach against U.S. suppliers and products they’ve been making for decades. “We simply think it’s ridiculous to decide after so many years that they can no longer use these names.”

The stakes aren’t paltry. Last year, the U.S. cheese industry brought in $22 billion and produced 11 billion pounds of cheese, according to the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. ($10 billion of that is in Wisconsin alone.) Barring U.S. cheese makers from exporting feta or parmesan would give Greece and Italy an opportunity to step in. Marin Bozic, an assistant professor of dairy foods marketing economics at the University of Minnesota, says a deal would not only give Europe a non-price advantage in foreign markets, where American cheese exports are booming, but would affect domestic consumers, too.

“People will be confused,” Bozic says. “But the problem is that those names don’t indicate origin. They indicate method of preparation. When you order Greek feta, you don’t expect that it’s feta from Greece. You just expect feta.”

Consumers have come to understand these names as representative of a type of cheese rather than rooted in a certain place, Bozic argues. “It’s not adding anything for consumers. There’s nothing about Greek feta that would make it taste superior. It’s a common food name and reverting back 50 years is no solution. It’s going to be a hard fight, but I don’t see the U.S. relenting on this topic. I think the E.U. would have to make real concessions in other fields to make it beneficial for the U.S.”

TIME europe

Don’t Worry, Ukraine Won’t Go Nuclear

Russian troops occupy a Ukrainian military base in the Crimean town of Yevpatori, March 5, 2014.
Russian troops occupy a Ukrainian military base in the Crimean town of Yevpatori, March 5, 2014. Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME

Ukraine once had a massive nuclear arsenal. But despite calls in Kiev to develop a nuclear deterrent against Vladimir Putin's Russia, the idea is far-fetched. Building a bomb would be incredibly difficult and contradicts the country's long nonproliferation record

As Russia helps itself to Crimea, some Ukrainians are wishing they had a nuclear deterrent against Vladimir Putin’s territorial ambitions. Ukraine had a vast nuclear arsenal once, after all, which it gave up 20 years ago.

Now the country may be second-guessing that decision—and even contemplating whether to reverse it.

“[T]here’s a strong sentiment in Ukraine that we made a big mistake,” Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, told USA Today this week. “In the future, no matter how the situation is resolved in Crimea, we need a much stronger Ukraine. If you have nuclear weapons people don’t invade you.”

That rhetoric startled foreign policy insiders in Washington. One former Obama administration official says he can’t recall hearing a Ukrainian official publicly regret the country’s denuclearization before.

But Rizanenko’s thinking isn’t unique. “Russia would not invade a nuclear state,” the controversial former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, said in an interview with TIME last week. Saakashvili, whose own country fought a territorial dispute with Putin in 2004, lived in Ukraine for several years and maintains deep political ties there. “Ukraine could still make a bomb,” he said.

In theory, that’s true. But experts say it would be a long and contentious road. Ukraine lacks suitable nuclear material and the means to produce it. Going nuclear would also bring down harsh reprisals from both Russia and the West.

Ukraine “does not have a plausible near-term scenario for developing nuclear weapons,” says Gary Samore, the former coordinator for weapons of mass destruction on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council.

“Over the long term, if they made a major national decision, they would have the capability” to develop nuclear weapons, says Matthew Bunn, a non-proliferation expert at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. But, he adds, “there would be a lot of chances for Russia and the United States to lean on them before it reached fruition.”

Obama administration officials aren’t sweating the prospect. Speaking at a nuclear security conference in Washington Tuesday, Samore’s White House successor, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, praised the Ukrainians as “important leaders in nuclear nonproliferation. … They have truly been trailblazers.”

“We fully anticipate that Ukraine will remain a leader in this field,” Sherwood-Randall added.

A Ukrainian move to reacquire nuclear weapons would reverse what may be history’s most dramatic voluntary surrender of military capability. For a brief moment after the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine had the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal—some 1,900 weapons, most of them long-range cruise missiles. Three year’s after the USSR’s 1991 collapse, which left Ukraine an independent state, the country signed an agreement with the U.S., Great Britain and Russia known as the Budapest Memorandum, under which it agreed to ship the warheads on its territory to Russia for elimination.

Ukraine’s then-president Leonid Kravchuk cast the decision in idealistic terms, saying it would lead the world toward “disarmament and for the elimination of nuclear weapons.” But he also had more pragmatic motives. The move earned yielded goodwill from the U.S., which linked the surrender to help from the World Bank, the IMF and NATO . (It also meant a quick cash infusion from the sale of nuclear material—rendered unusable for bombs—from the dismantled weapons).

Members of Ukraine’s parliament protested, calling nukes a crucial shield against Russia’s territorial ambitions—which were plenty clear even then: In July 1993, Russia’s legislature had voted unanimously to confirm the “Russian federal status” of the Crimean city of Sevastopol, leading Ukraine to appeal to the United Nations.

Russia backed down. But through the Budapest Memorandum, Ukraine insisted on and won assurances of respect for its sovereignty and borders. Specifically, the parties pledged to “seek immediate United Nations Security Council action… if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression.”

Little good that does now, when the aggressor is Russia—which wields veto power on the Security Council—and when Putin argues that the 1994 deal is obsolete anyway. On March 4, the Russian president described post-revolutionary Ukraine as “a new state,” one “with which we have signed no binding agreements” (never mind that Putin also calls Kiev’s new government illegitimate).

In a closed-door Capitol Hill briefing from members of Congress on Tuesday, Obama administration officials were pressed about the ominous precedent of seeing the violation of a state that relinquished nuclear arms in return for security guarantees. Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn asked assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland why the U.S. hasn’t done more to enforce the Budapest Memorandum against Putin’s Crimean annexation.

“She said it was a political treaty, not a NATO-type binding treaty, and so you make political noises and objections and that’s all you can do,” Lamborn told TIME after the briefing.

Given all that, it’s not hard to see why Ukrainians might want to revert to pre-Budapest days themselves and go nuclear again.

Easier said than done.

Ukraine does have some highly trained scientists from the former Soviet nuclear complex, including, according to Bunn, Vyacheslav Danilenko, an implosion systems designer who has been linked to Iran’s nuclear program. What it lacks is nuclear material.

That wasn’t the case just a few years ago. When Obama took office, Ukraine still had enough highly enriched uranium (HEU)—in the form of fuel for scientific research reactors—to build several nuclear weapons. But in a signature achievement of Obama’s drive to enhance global nuclear security, Kiev agreed to give up that material as well. The last of Ukraine’s HEU was shipped out of the country in March 2012—one reason Sherwood-Randall dubbed the Ukrainians nonproliferation “leaders” and “trailblazers.”

Today, Ukraine operates several civilian nuclear reactors, but lacks a reprocessing facility to enhance its reactor fuel to bomb-grade quality. The country does possess natural uranium, but not the centrifuges needed for its enrichment. “In theory, Ukraine could develop an indigenous capability to produce fissile material,” Samore says. “But it would take many years.”

Too long to save Crimea. But long enough for severe condemnation and retribution—both from a threatened and dangerous Russia and an American president who considers nuclear nonproliferation one of his most important priorities. A nuclear Ukraine isn’t impossible, but it’s almost certainly not going to happen.

-with reporting from Alex Rogers in Washington

TIME Israel

Israel Passes Law Drafting Ultra-Orthodox Into the Army

Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews rally in a massive show of force against plans to force them to serve in the Israeli military, blocking roads and paralyzing the city of Jerusalem, March 2, 2014.
Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews rally in a massive show of force against plans to force them to serve in the Israeli military, blocking roads and paralyzing the city of Jerusalem, March 2, 2014. Oded Balilty—AP

Israel’s parliament passed a controversial law mandating that some ultra-Orthodox men serve in the national army despite their religious beliefs. The law will take effect as soon as it gets approval from Prime Minister Netanyahu's cabinet

Israel’s parliament on Wednesday passed a law requiring at least some ultra-Orthodox men—strictly observant Jews known by their black fedoras and discomfort with the secular world—to serve in the national army. The controversial measure will become law with cabinet approval, which is virtually assured given the support of 67 of the 68 lawmakers who make up Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition.

The stated intention of the bill is to share the burden of military service equally, but it’s also aimed at preserving Israel’s economy: Military service is an established gateway to employment and currently fewer than half of ultra-Orthodox men work for a living. Jewish Israelis not protected by exceptions previously granted the ultra-Orthodox are obliged from age 18 to present themselves for military service that runs three years for men and two years for women.

Beyond the inevitable social resentments of taxpayers irked by having to support the ultra-Orthodox community, the absence of ultra-Orthodox from the workforce cost Israel’s economy more than $1.5 billion in 2010, according to the finance ministry. Known in Hebrew as haredi, or “God-fearing,” the ultra-Orthodox currently make up 10 percent of Israel’s population, but are the fastest-growing segment of the country’s population, with a birth rate of 7.1 percent (compared to 1.4 percent for other Jewish Israelis). More than half now live in poverty. The governor of Israel’s central bank recently warned that failing to integrate them into the workforce will cost the gross national product three percentage points a year.

“Listen, one in every seven 18-year-old male Israelis is haredi,” says Ofer Shelah, a leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, which campaigned heavily on the issue in elections last year. “A third of those who entered first grade in the Jewish population of Israel entered a haredi school. Therefore, if we don’t get them into the draft–and even more important, into the work force—in 12 years we will have nobody to serve in the army, and in 15 years we’ll have nobody to work… That is how important this bill is.”

The problem has its roots in state policy: At Israel’s 1948 founding, its founders agreed to subsidize the livelihoods of 400 “Torah sages” to replace the religious scholars lost in the Holocaust. Over the years, the subsidies were extended to any haredi man who wished to spend his day studying scripture, as community norms prescribe.

“To live a spiritual life and study the Torah is a life aspiration for any haredi man, but when you can’t feed your family, that’s a privilege you can’t afford,” says Yitzhak Bloch, 28, an ultra-Orthodox man from the central Israel city of Elad who came to the conclusion when he found his family on the brink of poverty, after the birth of a third child. He found work as an investments consultant, and says gainful employment “doesn’t come at the expense of spirituality. I still study the Torah, after working hours. Studying the Torah was and still is the essence of any haredi man.”

Few ultra-Orthodox are educated to enter the workforce, however. In their emphasis on religious studies, ultra-Orthodox schools seldom teach math or English, crucial subjects to employers. “The greatest difficulty today is the English language,” says Motti Feldstaine, director general of the Kemach, a foundation offering vocational training to ultra-Orthodox. “Math you can get in a concentrated course, but a language is much harder to assimilate in a short period.”

Still, driven by shrinking subsidies and rising costs of living, increasing numbers of religious males are working. In 2007, only 39 percent of ultra-Orthodox men had paying jobs. A gradual acceptance in the haredi community of the need to work, coupled with growing state funds promoting training for them, brought participation in the work force to 46 percent in 2010. The goal for 2020 set by a government committee is 65 percent.

It won’t be easy. Many senior rabbis see the government’s efforts as an assault on religion—a sentiment, critics suggest, that the law passed Wednesday aggravates by threatening draft dodgers with jail. Moreover, the haredi emphasis on living apart from secular society—ultra-Orthodox have sometimes stoned cars that drive on the Jewish Sabbath—has made them an “other” to many Israelis. “There’s a great barrier among secular employers when it comes to employing haredi men,” says Pini Gross, head of the Maftech job placement center. “They see them as bunch of stone throwers and their natural attitude is to employ only the ones who are like them.”

But working side by side seems to help, says Bloch. “Many secular workers join us for the prayers, and there are also some friendships between secular and haredi workers,” he says. It just takes, he says, an openness to change.

with reporting from Karl Vick / Tel Aviv

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