TIME Markets

This is Why Trees Come Down When the Gold Price Goes Up

141339701
Getty Images

A new study establishes a connection between demand for gold and deforestation

The steep rise in the price of gold is a factor in the heightened rate of deforestation in South America, a new study has found.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Puerto Rico, says small-scale miners now find it profitable to try and extract the metal from low-grade seams underneath the region’s rain forests.

With the price of gold rising five times between 2001 and 2013, satellite data shows an area of 1,680 sq km cleared across forests in Brazil, Peru and the Guianas. Much of this was in protected areas, the Guardian reports.

During the second half of the period, deforestation doubled in speed as financial crises around the world caused the price of gold to shoot up.

Agriculture and logging are responsible for clearing more forest, but, researchers say, miners are more harmful to the soil and to water sources because of their use of mercury, cyanide and arsenic.

TIME russia

7 Western Assets Owned (for Now) by Russian Billionaires

Will the tanking Russian economy prompt its billionaires to shed their high profile holdings in the U.S. and Europe?

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is reportedly looking for a buyer for the NBA basketball team he bought five years ago, amid speculation that the his country’s shrinking economy may have squeezed his finances.

The 49-year-old businessman, worth roughly $11.1 billion, wants to unload the Brooklyn Nets, Bloomberg reports. A spokesman for Prokhorov told Bloomberg that the team is open to sale offers.

There are many reasons that Prokhorov, the first foreign owner of an NBA team, could be considering a sale. The team has suffered a dismal start to the season after a poor record last year, sinking his plans for a spot in the championships within five years. The team has also lost about $144 million in the last year, according to ESPN.

The billionaire may also be capitalizing on an apparently hot market for NBA teams after former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers last year for a record $2 billion. The Nets have been valued at around $1.3 billion, which means a sale could net Prokhorov nearly $1 billion in profits from his original, $220 million stake.

But as the Russian economy crumbles under falling oil prices and tough Western sanctions, the nation’s business elite are feeling the pressure. Last month alone, Russia’s richest 20 people — Prokhorov included — lost a combined $10 billion as the value of the ruble tumbled. They lost a combined $62 billion across the year, according to the analysis by Bloomberg.

And Prokhorov’s not alone. Russian billionaires have snapped up marquee items in Europe and the U.S., from sports teams to properties. There are growing fears that the downturn in Russia may prompt some of them to sell off their properties to cover losses.

Here’s a look at some of the highest profile assets owned by Russian oligarchs.

  • The Brooklyn Nets

    General view as fans watch a tip-off between the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic at the Barclays Center on Nov. 9, 2014 in Brooklyn, New York.
    Alex Goodlett—Getty Images General view as fans watch a tip-off between the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic at the Barclays Center on Nov. 9, 2014 in Brooklyn, New York.

    Mikhail Prokhorov, the seventh-richest Russian and the 107th richest person in the world, bought the team and a share of the team’s new Brooklyn arena, the Barclays Center, in 2010 (according to Bloomberg, his share of the arena is not for sale). The team made it to the playoffs in 2013 but still have little to show for high profile acquisitions of aging stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

  • Arsenal

    Arsenal players celebrate victory with mascot Gunnersauraus Rex after the FA Cup with Budweiser Final match between Arsenal and Hull City at Wembley Stadium on May 17, 2014 in London.
    Clive Mason—Getty Images Arsenal players celebrate victory with mascot Gunnersauraus Rex after the FA Cup with Budweiser Final match between Arsenal and Hull City at Wembley Stadium on May 17, 2014 in London.

    In 2007, Alisher Usmanov bought an initial stake in the Arsenal Football Club and now owns about 30% of the team. The Gunners won an FA Cup title last year after a nearly decade long drought, but 2014 wasn’t all good news for Usmanov, who lost the title of richest man in Russia to Viktor Vekselberg.

  • 15 Central Park West

    15 Central Park West, a luxury condominium building, stands in New York, U.S., on Jan. 6, 2009.
    Bloomberg/Getty Images 15 Central Park West, a luxury condominium building, stands in New York, U.S., on Jan. 6, 2009.

    The record-breaking $88 million purchase of a penthouse on Central Park West in New York City in 2012 was linked to Dmitry Rybolovlev, who made his fortune in the fertilizer industry. But Rybolovlev, worth $10.2 billion, could lose the property in an ugly and very expensive divorce settlement; in May, a Swiss court ordered him to pay a record-breaking $4.5 billion this year.

  • AS Monaco

    Yannick Ferreira Carrasco of Monaco shoots at goal during the French Ligue 1 match between AS Monaco FC and LOSC Lille at Louis II Stadium on Aug. 30, 2014 in Monaco,
    Kaz Photography/Getty Images Yannick Ferreira Carrasco of Monaco shoots at goal during the French Ligue 1 match between AS Monaco FC and LOSC Lille at Louis II Stadium on Aug. 30, 2014 in Monaco,

    Dmitry Rybolovlev lives in Monaco, where he has owned a majority stake in the local soccer team since 2011 and helped the red and white bounce back from a lengthy slump to be one of Europe’s strongest competitors — and biggest spenders. Could a record-setting divorce settlement representing half his fortune (though he’s still contesting the court’s ruling) and the effects of the dropping ruble push Rybolovlev to change that approach?

  • Star Island estate

    Single family homes on Star Island and the Venetian Islands are seen June 3, 2014 in Miami.
    Joe Raedle—Getty Images Single family homes on Star Island and the Venetian Islands are seen June 3, 2014 in Miami.

    Russian Vodka tycoon Roustam Tariko spent $25.5 million for an estate on Miami Beach’s Star Island in 2011, the largest Miami Beach sale in more than half a decade.

  • Chelsea F.C.

    Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates with team-mates after scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on Jan. 10, 2015 in London.
    Richard Heathcote—Getty Images Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates with team-mates after scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on Jan. 10, 2015 in London.

    Roman Abramovich shattered the record price paid for British soccer teams in 2003 when he paid $233 million for Chelsea FC. The steel tycoon, today Russia’s fourth wealthiest man, poured money into the team — until it made a profit last year — and helped it become one of the best in Europe. The team has won three Premier League titles as well as Europe’s Champions League under Abramovich’s ownership. While Abramovich’s fortune has shrunk by nearly two percent in the past year according to Bloomberg, representing a loss of more than 200 million dollars, he has given no indication of wanting to sell the team.

  • One Hyde Park

    One Hyde Park is seen London on May 2, 2014.
    Paul Hackett—Reuters One Hyde Park is seen London on May 2, 2014.

    Foreigners, including suspected Russian oligarchs, swooped in to buy up apartments in One Hyde Park, London’s most exclusive — and most expensive — residential tower. Some of the owners’ identities have been confirmed, like Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, who spent $220 million on an apartment. That was a record high spent in the U.K., until it was surpassed by another One Hyde Park buyer. But in the wake of the rubles plummet, Russian buyers in London’s luxury market have all but vanished, brokers told Bloomberg News last month.

TIME France

Buyers of Sold-Out Charlie Hebdo Show Off Cover on Social Media

Wednesday's issue was the first since the Jan. 7 terror attack on its office

Charlie Hebdo’s editors first thought 1 million copies would be enough. For a satirical newspaper that used to sell fewer than 60,000 copies before the Jan. 7 attack on its office left 12 dead, including eight of its journalists, the number seemed extraordinary.

But faced with an unprecedented demand in France and across the world, Charlie Hebdo’s print order was bumped to 3 million, then 5 million today.

Arthur Cattaneo (@arthurcattaneo) via InstagramArthur Cattaneo posted this photo of several copies of the new issue of Charlie Hebdo

Yet, many French readers were left frustrated Wednesday when the issue sold out within hours of it going on sale. Some of those who grabbed copies took to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook using the #SelfieCharlie and #Jaimoncharlie (“I have my Charlie”) hashtags.

Clélie Mathias (@cleliemathias) via InstagramJournalist Clélie Mathias posted this photo of herself holding the new issue of Charlie Hebdo
Marine Navarro (@marinenvr) via InstagramMarine Navarro posted this photo of the new issue of Charlie Hebdo.

Read next: Historic Charlie Hebdo Issue Selling for $1,100 on eBay

 

TIME portfolio

Paris Terror Attacks: One Tense, Mournful Week in Photos

TIME assigned French photographer Julien Pebrel to document the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre

French photographer Julien Pebrel has been covering for TIME the aftermath of the deadly Paris attacks, which claimed the lives of 17 people — including eight journalists at the satirical Charlie Hebdo newspaper.

“The mood in Paris last week was difficult to describe,” Pebrel tells TIME. “There was sadness, surprise. People were just in shock. When I talked to my colleagues and friends, none of them could work these first few days.”

That first evening, Jan. 7, as thousands of people came together at Place de la République in the center of Paris, Pebrel remembers seeing protesters spell out the words “Not Afraid” in signs. “The gathering was beautiful, silent and respectful,” he says. “There were a lot of young people – people who had never read Charlie Hebdo or [its predecessor] Hara Kiri.”

From the attacks, a sense of national unity has formed, says Pebrel. “In the streets, people are nicer, more polite with each other. They smile. There’s a sort of shared compassion—at least, that’s what I’ve seen,” he says. “I know that there’s been a rise in the number of anti-Muslim acts, so I guess some people react differently to these attacks.”

Pebrel senses that Muslims in France are growing wary. On Jan. 13, he visited the Addawa Mosque in Paris, where Cherif Kouachi, one of the two gunmen who attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, met with a jihadi recruiter for Iraq in 2004. “When one man saw me arrived, he told me: ‘More media, you’re going to say bad things about Islam once again.’ That’s when you realize that there’s a real gap [in our society],” says Pebrel. “We talked. It was friendly, but that’s when you realize that Muslims in France fear they will become scapegoats.”

Julien Pebrel is a French photographer based in Paris and represented by MYOP.

Alice Gabriner, who edited this photo essay, is TIME’s International Photo Editor.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

TIME Terrorism

5 Facts That Explain the Threat From Nigeria’s Boko Haram

A member of Boko Haram seen in a suburb of Kano, Nigeria, in 2012.
Samuel James—The New York Times/Redux A member of Boko Haram seen in a suburb of Kano, Nigeria, in 2012

How an election, an energy crisis and Boko Haram’s willingness to kill more people than Ebola puts Nigeria's challenges in context

As the world responded to the Charlie Hebdo attack with a 3.7 million person march and the most tweeted hashtag in history, a surge in insurgent savagery in northeast Nigeria drew much less international attention — but was far bloodier. “Je Suis Charlie” has been the theme of the week, but we could just as easily say “Je Suis Nigeria.”

Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group, wants to establish a caliphate of its own, and a weak Nigerian government is struggling to respond. Here are five facts that put the group’s atrocities in context — and show why we’re likely to see more violence ahead of Nigeria’s Feb. 14 elections.

1. Shocking numbers in the news
On Jan. 3, Boko Haram began an assault on the town of Baga in Nigeria’s restive northeast. While the Nigerian government said 150 died in the attack, other estimates of the death toll ranged from hundreds to some 2,000 people. By some reports, 30,000 people have been displaced. On Saturday, a suicide bomb attached to a 10-year-old girl killed at least 16 people. Boko Haram also attacked a military base in neighboring Cameroon.

(The Atlantic, CNN, al-Jazeera, Foreign Policy)

2. Approval and elections
On the back of his successful handling of the Ebola crisis, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s approval ratings vaulted to an all-time high 74% in September. By December, this number had fallen to 55%, and in the northeast, Boko Haram’s stronghold, his approval fell 23 points that month.

Can the February presidential election even be held in Nigeria’s three northeastern states? Boko Haram wants to force the country’s electoral commission to cancel or indefinitely postpone the vote there. We’ll likely see at least some voting there, though only under heavy security, making it easier for losers to challenge the integrity of the results. In 2011, post-election violence in Nigeria killed 800 people.

(Premium Times, Human Rights Watch)

3. Boko Haram vs. Ebola
The West African Ebola outbreak has killed roughly 8,400 people so far. That’s by far the biggest Ebola outbreak ever, yet the Council on Foreign Relations has compiled data that links 10,340 violent deaths between November 2013 and November 2014 to Boko Haram–related violence. The conflict has displaced more than 1.5 million people, and with more than 20,000 square miles under its control, Boko Haram–held territory is larger than Switzerland.

(Council on Foreign Relations via NBC News, Ebola death-toll estimates via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BBC, Washington Post, Telegraph, the New Yorker)

4. The government’s energy headache
The major problems in Nigeria’s energy sector makes a robust and costly response to Boko Haram that much more difficult. A steep fall in oil prices — down more than 50% since June — is bad news for a country that relies on crude for 95% of export revenue and 75% of government revenue. Nigeria has also severe electricity generation concerns. Though Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, as of 2012, the country’s per capita electricity consumption was just 7% of Brazil’s and 3% of South Africa’s. Half of Nigeria’s 170 million people have no access to electricity whatsoever.

(The Economist, the Guardian, the U.N. Africa Renewal, Energy Information Administration)

5. A blind eye
President Jonathan has an election to win, and his government has been accused of underestimating deaths attributable to Boko Haram to deflect political criticism. Less than 24 hours after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, President Jonathan publicly declared it a “dastardly terrorist attack.” Yet nine days after the violence in Baga began, Jonathan has not publicly acknowledged that the attacks had even happened, though a spokesman for Nigeria’s Defense Ministry issued a statement questioning the “exaggerated” death-toll estimates, dismissing them as “speculation and conjecture.”

(BBC, the Atlantic, transcript of Jan. 8 campaign rally via Sahara Reporters, CNN, Foreign Policy)

Read next: Detained Washington Post Journalist Indicted in Iran

TIME National Security

Charlie Hebdo Attack Highlights the Challenge of the U.S.-Yemen Relationship

If wars on terror don’t work, does Washington’s “lighter footprint” offer a viable alternative?

There are two basic ways the U.S. has dealt with incubators of terrorism: send in the Army, or send in the drones. Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrate that the former is no guarantee of success. The attack on Charlie Hebdo suggests that the latter isn’t, either.

There are good reasons to steer clear. “The U.S. needs to think hard about how much it wants to be in the middle of a shooting match between Sunni and Shia,” says Daniel Benjamin, who spent a lot of time dealing with Yemen as the State Department point man on counter-terrorism from 2009 to 2012.

And there are good reasons to get involved. “I have serious concerns for the future security of the United States and our allies,” says David Sedney, who from 2009 to 2013 ran the Pentagon office responsible for Afghanistan, Pakistan and central Asia. “Al-Qaeda and its offshoots have an agenda of destroying us, and our way of life.”

Then there’s the history of benign neglect. “Going back to my time at Centcom, we always felt we needed to do more to help Yemen build its anti-terrorism capability,” says Anthony Zinni, who ran U.S. Central Command as a four-star Marine general from 1997 to 2000. “The other Gulfies complained that their coast was the source of a lot of transit and the ability of bad guys to come in.”

Things got even worse on Oct. 12, 2000, three months after Zinni stepped down, when suicide bombers in a small boat approached the USS Cole during her refueling stop in Yemen’s Aden harbor. Crammed with explosives, the al-Qaeda-sponsored blast blew a hole in Cole’s hull, killing 17 sailors. “That sort of soured things. The hearings in Congress were all about `Why Yemen—who cares?’” Zinni recalls. “We sort of neglected Yemen, and the outcome is that’s where al-Qaeda in Afghanistan has ended up.”

FRANCE-CRIME-MEDIA-SHOOTING
Anne Gelbard—AFP/Getty ImagesThe Kouachi brothers face police after their killing spree inside the offices of Charlie Hebdo Jan. 7.

Yemen’s fingerprints are all over the slaughter at the French satirical newspaper, the latest in a series of bad events involving an impoverished state tacked on to the bottom of Saudi Arabia, wedged between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Washington has cited its relationship with Yemen as breeding success in the war on terror. On Sept. 10, as President Obama announced the start of a bombing campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, he heralded his lighter approach to dealing with terror by citing Yemen.

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he told the nation from the White House. “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

But 11 days later, the government of Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the U.S. partner in its anti-terror fight, was driven from the capital of Sana’a by Shiite-backed Houthis, who have since gained control of several ministries. The U.S. and its Yemeni allies says the Houthis are funded by Iran, which the Houthis deny, although both Iran and the Houthis are virulently anti-American.

Yemen National Dialogue
Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesYemen President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi

“It’s certainly worrisome when the legitimate government of President Hadi is much weakened by the Houthis occupation of Sana’a and by the increasingly sectarian character of the conflict there,” says Benjamin says, now a foreign-policy scholar at Dartmouth College. “I’m quite worried that this is going to become a southern version of Iraq because the whole region is so inflated with sectarian strife.”

Such violence further hampers American efforts. “It’s got to be harder for the U.S. to operate there, to cooperate with the authorities there, and also to do the training that’s such a key part of our relationship,” Benjamin says.

In fact, Yemen has been falling apart since the 2011 overthrow of Ali Abdullah Saleh, its longtime leader. The resulting unrest has allowed the Sunni-rooted al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to occupy much of the southern part of the country.

Four months after the fall of the capital, Saïd Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi, French brothers of Muslim descent, stormed Charlie Hebdo Jan. 7 and killed its editors and cartoonists, before dying in a shootout with French police two days later.

AQAP had trained both men in Yemen in 2011, Reuters reported Jan. 11, quoting anonymous Yemeni sources. The pair met with al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and spent time in the desert being trained on firearms before returning to France.

U.S.-born Awlaki—who was also U.S.-killed, by a CIA drone strike in Yemen in September, 2011—has been the most inspirational Islamist for those seeking to attack U.S. targets. His legacy includes the failed 2009 underwear bomber over Detroit, the successful Fort Hood attack that same year, and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. It was in Yemen—where Awlaki resided from 2004 until his death—that he, as the face of AQAP, produced online videos and other media that continue to drive adherents to kill in the name of religion. The Saudi news outlet Al Arabiya has described him as the “bin Laden of the Internet.”

“This whole idea that was pioneered by Awlaki of individual acts of jihad has, in this particular environment in Europe where there’s so much anti-immigrant sentiment, growing Islamophobia, tough economic times, created the ground work for this kind of attack,” Benjamin says.

From Yemen’s perspective, dealing with Washington hasn’t always been easy, either. After an explosion 100 miles east of Sana’a killed suspected USS Cole bombing mastermind Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi in 2002, Yemeni officials blamed a car bomb for his death.

USS Cole Attack Suspect Arrested
U.S. Navy/Getty ImagesThe USS Cole following the AQAP attack.

But Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz blew that cover story two days later by acknowledging in a CNN interview that a CIA Hellfire missile had killed al-Harethi.

“This is why is it so difficult to make deals with the United States,” Yemeni Brigadier General Yahya M. Al Mutawakel, the deputy secretary general for the ruling People’s Congress party, told the Christian Science Monitor shortly after Wolfowitz spilled the beans. “This is why we are reluctant to work closely with them.” Local outrage forced the U.S. to close its embassy in Sana’a temporarily following the admission.

Back in Paris, “Tell the media that this is Al-Qaeda in Yemen!” the Kouachi brothers shouted outside the newspaper office where they had just carried out their massacre. They’d later tell the driver of a car they hijacked that their actions were driven by a thirst for revenge for Awlaki’s death.

“The leadership of AQAP directed the operation, and they have chosen their target carefully as revenge for the honor of the prophet,” a statement issued by an AQAP spokesman said the day the pair died. U.S. officials said, despite that claim, that there is no clear evidence yet that the Paris attack was ordered by AQAP.

But the group did call for attacking Charlie Hebdo and its editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, in Inspire, its English-language magazine, saying he and other journalists were “wanted dead or alive for crimes against Islam.”

There is only so much the U.S. can do to fix the country. “Yemen is a semi-failed state—some people would say its an outright failed state—and as a result its absorptive capacity for dealing with assistance across a broad range of areas is limited,” Benjamin says. “We have done an enormous amount on the security side, as well as on the humanitarian, economic and governance accounts.”

Not everyone agrees. “We’ve mishandled Yemen terribly,” Sedney says. “Al-Qaeda is stronger today in Yemen than it was a year ago.”

The U.S. anti-terror policy of a “light footprint”—drones, special-ops units and training for local forces—isn’t working there, or in Libya, Somalia or the tribal areas of Pakistan, he says.

“That kind of activity can temporarily suppress the threat to the United States and our allies,” Sedney says. “But it doesn’t solve the problem, and it also creates countervailing forces that actually make the problem worse in the long run” because such remote attacks serve to motivate survivors to seek revenge.

Sedney says the only way of transforming a society is full-bore nation building, with the time and money needed to make it flourish. It requires political muscle and popular support, something that hasn’t truly existed since the U.S. helped rebuild Germany and Japan after World War II. “That worked wonderfully for us,” he says.

Since then, “the U.S. efforts have always been halfhearted, half-resourced and focused on exit strategies rather than on success,” Sedney says. “We always want to have an exit, and the problem with real life is there’s no exit.”

Christopher Swift, a Yemen expert at Georgetown University, agrees that U.S. efforts in Yemen have been lackluster. “Our relationships, whether they’re political or military, don’t extend beyond the capital,” he says. “The bad guys are out in the field, far away from the national capital, and to the extent we claim to have relationships out in the bush, they’re based on third-party sources or overhead surveillance.”

U.S. goals in Yemen have always been tempered. “We’ve been playing for very limited, very modest objectives in Yemen,” Swift says. “Yemen is still a place where people who want inspiration, or training, or a place to hide can go. AQAP isn’t going away. The Yemenis are not in a position to make it go away, and we’re not willing to help them defeat AQAO decisively.”

Al-Qaeda’s return to center stage comes a year after it was pushed out of the spotlight by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, which has preoccupied Washington and returned U.S. troops to Iraq for the third time in 25 years.

Al-Qaeda wants that spotlight back. “There an internal competitiveness now,” Zinni says. “Everybody wants to outdo the other guy, because it helps with recruiting and funding.”

Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agrees with Zinni. “ISIL is inspiring groups that already exist to rebrand themselves, but in rebranding themselves into a more radical ideology,” he told Fox News Jan. 9. “That’s what makes it dangerous.”

Yemen remains a difficult challenge. “Once touted as a relative success story among Arab uprisings, the internationally backed transition process in Yemen has unraveled in the wake of the September 21 Houthi takeover of Sana’a,” April Longley Alley of the nonprofit Middle East Institute wrote in December. “In the north, the balance of power has tipped sharply in favor of the Houthis, a predominantly Zaydi-Shi‘i movement that took control of the capital in September and has since consolidated and expanded southward and along the Red Sea coast. Supporters of the movement see the Houthis as correcting the wrongs of the country’s 2011 transition agreement, which preserved the power and corruption of old regime elites. They praise the movement’s willingness to confront corruption, combat al-Qa‘ida, and fill a security vacuum left by a feckless government.”

But the Saudis, who have poured at least $4 billion in aid into Yemen, view the Houthis as proxies for their mortal enemy, Iran, and could halt the cash flow. “If they do pull the plug,” Alley writes, “it will almost certainly increase hardship for average Yemenis, undermine the new technocratic government formed in November, and raise the prospect of fiscal collapse in early 2015.”

Houthis take control of al-Udayn district in Ibb, Yemen
Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesHouthis have taken over wide swaths of Yemen.

Between 2011 and 2014, the U.S. pumped $343 million into Yemen, largely to fight AQAP. The U.S. is slated to provide Yemen with $125 million in arms and military training in 2015, in addition to $75 million in humanitarian aid, according to the nonprofit Security Assistance Monitor website.

“Despite their aggressive actions against AQAP, the Houthis have continually expressed anti-American rhetoric,” Seth Binder of the Security Assistance Monitor wrote Jan. 9. “And AQAP has used the Houthi’s Zaidi-Shi’a roots, a sect of Shiite Islam, to frame their battle as a Sunni-Shiite conflict. Recent reports indicate the tactic may be working as an increasing number of disenchanted Sunni tribesman are joining AQAP.”

There are near-daily attacks in Yemen now. On Jan. 7—the same day the Kouachi brothers butchered Charlie Hebdo’s masthead—a car bomb killed 40 people seeking to enroll in a police academy in Sana’a. Five suspected al-Qaeda members have been arrested in connection with the blast.

TIME Aviation

Search Crews Locate Missing AirAsia Flight’s Fuselage

AirAsia aircraft tail storage is recovered
Denny Pohan—Demotix/Corbis AirAsia aircraft tail is recovered from the Java Sea on Jan. 12, 2015, in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia

Official hopes it brings "some form of closure" to families

Search crews located the fuselage of missing Air Asia Flight 8501 on Wednesday, officials said, marking a breakthrough in a the search for the plane’s scattered wreckage and the missing passengers’ remains.

“The [rescue team] has located the fuselage of the AirAsia plane in the Java Sea,” Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen wrote on Facebook, saying the fuselage had been found by a remotely operated vehicle in the Java Sea, 2 km away from the tail. The flight en route from Indonesia to Singapore vanished over the Java Sea on Dec. 28 with 162 people on board.

The Facebook post included images of the submerged wreckage, which showed a section of the wing and AirAsia’s slogan “Now Everyone Can Fly” legibly printed on the side of the plane.

“I hope that with the fuselage located, some form of closure can come to the families of the victims to ease their grief,” Ng wrote.

TIME France

French Comedian Held on Suspicion of Sympathy for Gunman Who Killed 5

File photo of French comedian Dieudonne attends a news conference at the "Theatre de la Main d'or" in Paris
Gonzalo Fuentes—Reuters Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala during a press conference in Paris in 2014.

Dieudonné M'bala M'bala was arrested for "defending terrorism"

French police on Wednesday arrested the country’s most incendiary comedian, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, for having posted a message on Facebook last week which appeared to show sympathy for the man who killed four Jews in a kosher supermarket in Paris last week.

“Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly,” wrote Dieudonné in a reference to the gunman Amedy Coulibaly who also fatally shot a policewoman last Thursday.

MORE Dieudonné M’bala M’bala has become a star by targeting France’s Jews

The arrest of the comedian was “totally exaggerated and disportionate” according to his lawyer Jacques Verdier. He told TIME on Wednesday that his client remained in custody nine hours after his arrest. Verdier said he thought the government had “lost its composure.”

The arrest is already being seen as a sign of double standards in France, coming three days after President François Hollande attended a march through the streets of Paris to proclaim freedom of speech. The paroxysm of violence in Paris began on January 7, when Said and Cherif Kouachi massacred eight journalists at the satirical paper Charlie Hebdo and four others. The Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed on Wednesday it had planned and ordered the attack on the publication.

On Wednesday, Dieudonné was being investigated for “defending terrorism.” His arrest came a day after Prime Minister Manuel Valls — who last year ordered theaters to cancel Dieudonné’s show — made an impassioned speech to parliament about “these preachers of hatred,” without mentioning the comedian by name. The comedian’s in-your-face act, with its jokes about the Holocaust, has made Dieudonné a household name in France, and tickets to his shows sell out weeks in advance. In a long interview with TIME last year, Dieudonné said, “there is some paranoia among Jews. If I have deeply hurt anyone, I apologize.”

Dieudonné, who comes from a Cameroonian immigrant family, has built his fame around the ability to push buttons and cause offence. That, says, Verdier, is similar to Charlie Hebdo, whose humor regularly insults people. “Dieudonné is also controversial, he is also against religion,” he says. The comedian has irked the government for years, and instilled deep anxieties in French Jews, who see his brand of humor as giving voice to rising anti-Semitism in the country.

While the Charlie Hebdo attack brought huge global sympathy, it has also provoked a strong debate in France about the limits of free speech, something that does not have blanket legal protection as it does in the U.S.. Judges can deem remarks, for example, to further terrorism or racial violence, and denying the Holocaust is banned under law. French officials have ordered 54 investigations into hate speech since the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Read next: Charlie Hebdo Attack Highlights the Challenge of the U.S.-Yemen Relationship

TIME U.K.

Here Are The Most Surprising Gifts the British Royal Family Received Last Year

Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge And Prince Harry Visit Tower Of London's Ceramic Poppy Field
Samir Hussein—WireImage From Left: Prince Harry, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visit The Tower Of London's Ceramic Poppy installation 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' by artist Paul Cummins, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of First World War on Aug. 5, 2014 in London.

Buckingham Palace has revealed all the official gifts given to to royal family in 2014

Over the course of a year, Britain’s royal family are presented with hundreds of gifts as they go about their official duties. On Wednesday Buckingham Palace and Clarence House released lists of the official gifts the royal family received in 2014. Among the expected assortment of commemorative coins, bottles of wine or whisky, plaques, framed paintings, jewels and cultural tokens, are a few surprises.

The most surprising gifts included:

  • a miniature throne from the Game of Thrones series (given to Queen Elizabeth)
  • a PhD thesis (given to Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall)
  • an automatic rifle, decommissioned (given to — who else? — Prince Harry)
  • 12 boxes of mangos (given to Prince Andrew)
  • an Arctic Monkey’s CD (given to Prince Andrew)
  • Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices (given to Prince Andrew)

The names of most gift givers is not noted so there is no way of knowing if Hillary Clinton gave her own book to Prince Andrew.

Though Prince William and wife Kate received numerous gifts, as well as many gifts for Prince George, nothing unusual stands out in their the official gift listing. Then again, the royal couple gave the vaguest descriptions of their gifts — jotting down “book” or “selection of condiments” — so perhaps there were some surprises in the mix as well.

Last year’s collection of gifts aren’t among the most unusual the royal family, namely Queen Elizabeth, has ever received. The most bizarre gifts the Queen has been given over the years include live animals; several horses, a canary from Germany, jaguars and sloths from Brazil, two black beavers from Canada, two young giant turtles from the Seychelles and an elephant called Jumbo from the Cameroon. (The more exotic animals are cared for by the London Zoo.)

TIME Sri Lanka

Pope Francis Seeks ‘Reconciliation’ in Sri Lanka

Pope Francis holds his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square on Oct. 15, 2014 in Vatican City.
Franco Origlia—Getty Images Pope Francis holds his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square on Oct. 15, 2014 in Vatican City.

The first papal visit to the country since the end of a bloody civil war

Pope Francis traveled to a former conflict zone in northwest Sri Lanka on Wednesday, calling for “reconciliation, justice and peace” during a prayer at a Catholic shrine damaged during the bloody civil war that convulsed the island nation for nearly three decades.

For years, the shrine of Our Lady of Madhu—located deep in the Tamil-dominated north that saw some of the fiercest fighting during the conflict between the country’s predominately Sinhalese government and Tamil separatists—was off limits for most believers. In April 2008, about a year before the end of the war, priests briefly removed the Madhu Matha—a 2-ft. icon of the Virgin Mary that forms the centerpiece of the shrine—for safekeeping as government forces pushed up north.

“There are families here today which suffered greatly in the long conflict which tore open the heart of Sri Lanka,” Pope Francis said, as a giant crowd reported to be half-a-million strong gathered to witness his arrival at the shrine. “Many people, from north and south alike, were killed in the terrible violence and bloodshed of those years.”

MORE 5 things to know about Pope Francis’ Sri Lanka visit

Among those listening him to were about 1,000 men and women disabled during the civil war, which claimed an estimated 70,000 lives. “This is a special occasion for them, they want to hear the Holy Father speak of the suffering here, so that the world’s eyes will open [to the] people still suffering here,” said Ramsiyah Pachchanlam, who works with a local organization that helps men and women wounded and disabled in the conflict.

The Pope’s arrival in Sri Lanka on Tuesday, days after the unexpected ouster of wartime leader Mahinda Rajapaksa in Presidential elections earlier this month, marked the first papal visit to the country since the end of the war. Rajapaksa’s successor, Maithripala Sirisena, has pledged to hold an independent domestic inquiry into wartime rights abuses, a contentious topic for many among the country’s majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil communities. Both government forces and Tamil separatists stand accused of serious human rights violations during the war.

“No Sri Lankan can forget the tragic events associated with this very place, or the sad day when the venerable statue of Mary, dating to the arrival of the earliest Christians in Sri Lanka, was taken away from her shrine,” the Pope said at the shrine.

“May all people find here inspiration and strength to build a future of reconciliation, justice and peace for all the children of this beloved land,” he added.

Additional reporting by Amantha Perera / Madhu, Sri Lanka

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com