TIME animals

See a Python Eat Enough Food for 3 Months at 1 Sitting

The meal could take a week to digest

And you thought you ate too much over the holidays.

Australia’s Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Facebook page posted images of a python with “about the biggest prey item it could eat”: A whole baby wallaby.

Images show the snake wrapping around the wallaby to suffocate the creature before eating it whole. The meal would take almost a week to digest and could sustain the snake for up to three months. Here are the (somewhat graphic) images:

TIME energy

Low Oil Prices Pushing Venezuela Towards Default

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez speaks to journalists ahead of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna, Austria on Nov. 27, 2014.
SAMUEL KUBANI—AFP/Getty Images Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez speaks to journalists ahead of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna, Austria on Nov. 27, 2014.

Venezuela is particularly vulnerable as its economy depends on oil for 95 percent of its export revenue

Low oil prices are putting major oil producers in a squeeze. The Russian central bank has been forced to cough up foreign exchange in order to defend itself from a currency crisis. But it may be Venezuela that is the least prepared and most in danger of an economic freefall because of the dramatic decline in oil prices.

Venezuela is particularly vulnerable as its economy depends on oil for 95 percent of its export revenue. The economy was stagnant even when oil prices were in triple digit territory. In fact, the violent protests that broke out in Caracas in February 2014 occurred when oil prices were well over $100 per barrel. But mismanagement of the economy is not a new phenomenon – inflation-adjusted per capita GDP in Venezuela is 2 percent lower today compared to what it was in 1970.

However, the South American OPEC member saw its fortunes go from bad to worse when oil prices started to decline. In October, prominent Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff predicted that Venezuela would most likely default on its bonds as a result of oil prices. And that was when Brent crude was trading above $80 per barrel. Since then, it has tumbled another 25 percent to $60 per barrel.

MORE Battered By Low Oil Prices, Venezuela Seeks Foreign Aid

The clouds are darkening around Caracas. According to the Wall Street Journal, credit-default swap prices indicate that Venezuela is facing a 61 percent chance of default within the next year. Even if they can avoid the worst in the short-term, the Venezuelan government has a 90 percent chance of defaulting over the next five years. Bloomberg pegs the chance of default at a much higher 97 percent by the end of 2015. These projections are significantly worse than the 50-50 chance the markets figured only two months ago.

Venezuela is in a much tougher position than some of its oil producing peers because its foreign reserves have fallen to dangerously low levels. Russia has had to sell off $80 billion in foreign exchange so far this year in order to keep the ruble from collapsing, but it still holds somewhere on the order of $400 billion in reserves that it can draw upon to weather the downturn. Venezuela, by comparison, may only have around $21 billion, the lowest level in years.

That leaves Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with very little firepower to stave off a bond market onslaught. Venezuelan bonds fell to their lowest level in 16 years in mid-December after Maduro ruled out a scrap of fuel subsidies. They now trade at less than 40 cents on the dollar.

Maduro says credit rating agencies – Fitch slashed Venezuela’s credit to CCC in mid-December – are waging a “vulgar, immoral blockade” on the country. But without a rebound in oil prices, Maduro has few options left to avoid an economic crisis.

Nevertheless, many market analysts think that default will be an option of last resort since doing so will inflict more pain than its worth. “The cost of defaulting is still too high relative to the benefits,” Carl Ross, an analyst at Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo & Co., told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. “Investors are expecting some sort of positive policy response that allows Venezuela to muddle through.”

MORE OPEC Calls For Widespread Production Cuts

Still, while Maduro may successfully steer the ship away from external default, that may be of little solace to the average Venezuelan. As economists Reinhart and Rogoff note, the Venezuelan government is “defaulting in numerous ways on its domestic residents already,” including failing to pay for pharmaceutical imports, food, and unpaid bills to airline companies.

Such domestic defaults also result in “deeper and longer-lasting recessions and much higher inflation” than from just external defaults alone, Reinhart and Rogoff say. In other words, Venezuela is already facing an economic crisis, it is now just a question of how bad it gets.

This is why Venezuela was pressing OPEC members – Saudi Arabia in particular – to cut oil production so that prices would rise. But, on December 21, OPEC affirmed once again that it will not cut production and will instead let the market sort itself out. That, no doubt, is not welcome news in Caracas.

This post originally appeared on OilPrice.com.

Read more from Oilprice.com:

TIME Britain

BBC Postpones Documentary After Royals Reportedly Intervene

Sandy Henney Mark Bolland
Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images Sandy Henney, Press Secretary To The Prince Of Wales, And Mark Bolland, Deputy Private Secretary To The Prince Of Wales, In Sheffield On The Eve Of The Prince's 50th Birthday.

Unlike most documentaries about the royal family, Reinventing The Royals was not sanctioned by the Palace

The BBC said Wednesday it was postponing a controversial documentary about the royal family that was produced without the cooperation of Buckingham Palace.

According to a report from the Radio Times, the BBC made the decision after lawyers representing the royal family intervened.

The BBC2 two-part documentary, Reinventing The Royals, examines the public relations tactics of “spin doctor” Mark Bolland, who helped boost Prince Charles’s public image in the wake of the death of Princess Diana in 1997. The film drew attention because, unlike most documentaries about the royal family, it was not sanctioned by the Palace.

In a statement Wednesday, the BBC said it was postponing the Jan. 4 airing of Reinventing the Royals “until later in the New Year while a number of issues including the use of archive footage are resolved.” A BBC spokesperson declined to respond to the report that lawyers representing the royal family were involved in the delay.

TIME Aviation

Witness the Tragic Aftermath of AirAsia Flight 8501

Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency confirmed Tuesday that searchers had discovered debris from the missing AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 and the bodies of 40 passengers in the Java Sea. The Singapore-bound plane disappeared on Sunday with 162 people on board

TIME Australia

Australia Hunts for Killer Great White With a Spear in Its Throat

The victim’s friend says he managed to fire a spear at the shark.

Authorities are searching for a shark that killed a 17-year-old on Monday off Cheynes Beach in Western Australia.

Jay Muscat, 17, died after he was bitten in the leg while spearfishing, the second deadly shark attack in Australia in two weeks, the Associated Press reports. A friend who was spearfishing with him says he managed to fire a spear at the shark.

“The shark turned and came for me, I pushed the speargun down its throat and fired the gun!,” he wrote on Facebook, according to the AFP. “This is something no one should ever have to see.”

A spokesman for the state fisheries department, Carlo Vittiglia, told the AP that the shark is believed to be a great white up to 16-feet long. In recent years, there have been an average of two deadly shark attacks a year in Australia.

[AP]

TIME Greece

Two Albanian Seamen Killed in Effort to Salvage Ferry

TOPSHOTS-ITALY-GREECE-FERRY-RESCUE
AFP/Getty Images A rescue operation of the burned ferry "Norman Atlantic" adrift in the Adriatic Sea off Albania on Dec. 29, 2014.

Ten passengers of Norman Atlantic confirmed dead

Two more people have died in the aftermath of a ferry fire that occurred in the Adriatic Sea near Greece. A pair of Albanian seamen who were attempting to salvage the multideck car ferry were killed when the cable connecting their boat to the ferry snapped and struck them Tuesday. One man died instantly while the other died while being assisited by a helicopter medical team, a port authority official told Reuters.

Ten other deaths have previously been reported due to the fire. The Italian navy has said that the ferry has been fully evacuated. However, the navy has only confirmed that 427 people have been rescued, which is well below the 478 people were estimated to be on board the ferry.

[Reuters]

TIME Security

New Research Blames Insiders, Not North Korea, for Sony Hack

U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
AP U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Growing evidence suggests it was not North Korea.

A leading cyber security firm says it has evidence that contradicts the government’s allegation that North Korea was behind the debilitating cyber attacks against Sony Pictures.

Researchers from the firm Norse told Security Ledger, an independent security news website, that they believe that a group of six individuals orchestrated the hack, including at least one former employee who was laid off in company-wide restructuring in May.

The latest allegations add to growing skepticism over the FBI’s assertion — reiterated by President Barack Obama — that linked North Korea to the attack, which the country has denied. A recent linguistic analysis cited in the New York Times found that the hackers’ language in threats against Sony was written by a native Russian speaker and not a native Korean speaker.

“For every clue that seems to point to the involvement of the DPRK, there are others that point in other directions, as well,” the Security Ledger reports.

Read more at the Security Ledger.

TIME russia

Watch Pussy Riot Fly Off On Broomsticks in New Protest Video

"This is above all a propaganda video"

At first, Pussy Riot’s new video of protest looks like a sexy perfume commercial. It is actually a call to action, asking Russian dissenters to demonstrate outside the Kremlin Tuesday for the sentencing of opposition leader Alexei Navlny.

In “Witches of Pussy Riot clean Manezhku,” the camera zeroes in on members Masha Alekhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova, joined by other female activists — as they put lipstick on puckered lips, pull stockings up their legs, and fly off on broomsticks to go to a demonstration at Manezhka square.

“This is above all a propaganda video,” Tolokonnikova told BuzzFeed News. “It’s a play on the classic stereotype that for girls/princesses/Cinderellas, the most important thing is a prince/date/man, and the place of the prince is taken by politics.”

TIME viral

This Is What It Is Like When Your Airliner Makes an Emergency Landing

The plane was forced to make an emergency landing due to technical problems with landing gear

A passenger on board Virgin Atlantic Flight VS43 recorded video footage inside the plane moments before its emergency landing at London Gatwick Airport Monday.

“When you hear the command ‘brace, brace’, you must adopt the brace position,” a voice on the loudspeaker says while crew members instruct passengers, who are mostly calm, on procedure.

The Las Vegas-bound Boeing 747 was forced to turn around after detecting a problem with its landing gear midair.

This video shows the plane landing safely at the airport, although the airline reported some passengers sustained minor injuries:

Richard Branson congratulated the team on a skilled landing:

 

TIME remembrance

TIME Remembers the Leaders Who Died in 2014

Ariel Sharon cover
Cover Credit: ALLAN TANNENBAUM Ariel Sharon on the Oct. 4, 1982, cover of TIME

The politicians, operators and world-changers who died in the past year

Since the very first issue of TIME, the Milestones section has marked important moments of the week and celebrated the lives of those who died recently. Staffers, critics and those who knew the late, great figures share what made those people special. Here are a few of 2014’s most notable Milestones obituaries for the people who defined the political shape of our world.

Nancy Reagan on James ‘Jim’ Brady: “Jim was a patriot. He loved his country and was proud to serve. Ronnie insisted that Jim remain his press secretary [after he was seriously wounded during the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan], because it was the right thing to do and the White House just did not seem complete without Jim.”

Read the full remembrance here

Senator Bernie Sanders on Jim Jeffords: “In Washington, he was a strong advocate for education, disability rights, the environment and the arts. Millions of Americans–whether they realize it or not–have benefited from his efforts.”

Read the full remembrance here

Alex Altman on Jeb Magruder: “Drive without discipline is a dangerous thing, particularly at the highest rungs of power. In 1974, when former White House aide Jeb Magruder became a confessed felon, he made a candid statement about the source of his moral failures. ‘Somewhere between my ambition and my ideals,’ he admitted, ‘I lost my ethical compass.'”

Read the full remembrance here

George J. Mitchell on Ian Paisley: “Ian Paisley was a historic and controversial figure in Northern Ireland and throughout the U.K. For many years, he stood at the intersection of religion and politics in Northern Ireland as he led opposition to power sharing between his Protestant majority and the Catholic minority. Often flamboyant, he called the Pope ‘the Antichrist’ and criticized Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair as ‘liars.'”

Read the full remembrance here

Nate Rawlings on Otis Pike: “As head of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, he spearheaded the first congressional examination of secret dealings by the CIA, including illegal spying on Americans at home. During the combative hearings, Pike was ‘the model of a properly pugnacious public servant,’ TIME wrote, ‘sharp-tongued and not easily intimidated.'”

Read the full remembrance here

Tom Segev on Ariel Sharon: “Sharon often felt misunderstood and misrepresented as a knee-jerk belligerent. I asked him if he had liked participating in war. The former army general began his response solemnly, saying only a man like him–a man who had fought in all of Israel’s wars and sustained injuries in two of them–could love peace as much as he did. But then, in a more pensive vein, he added that, to him, fighting was like farming: both activities were essential to life.”

Read the full remembrance here

James A. Baker III on Eduard Shevardnadze: “He will have an honored place in history if for no other reason than that he and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev refused to use force to preserve the Soviet empire.”

Read the full remembrance here

Bob Ney on Jim Traficant: “Some remember Jim for how his career ended, but those of us who knew him remember his passion, humor, wit and concern for the average person. Many in his district fondly recalled the good things he did as he left the House for the last time with his famous closing line: ‘Beam me up, Mr. Speaker.'”

Read the full remembrance here

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