TIME Mexico

Gas Blast at Mexico City Children’s Hospital Kills at Least 4

MEXICO-HOSPITAL-EXPLOSION
Rescuers work amid the wreckage caused by an explosion in a hospital in Cuajimalpa, Mexico City, on Jan. 29, 2015. David Deolarte—AFP/Getty Images

Mancera said the blast apparently was caused by a leak in the hose carrying gas from the truck to the hospital

(MEXICO CITY) — A powerful gas tank truck explosion shattered a maternity and children’s hospital in Mexico City on Thursday, killing at least three adults and one baby and injuring dozens.

Claudia Dominguez, spokeswoman for the city’s civil defense agency, confirmed the deaths and said she expected an updated toll soon.

She said she could not confirm the report by the local borough chief, Adrian Rubalcava, that seven had died

Rescuers continued digging through the rubble even as smoke rose from remaining fires.

Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera earlier told the Televisa network that at least 54 people were injured, 22 of them children. Most of the injuries were relatively minor, he said, many caused by flying glass.

Fausto Lugo, the city’s civil defense director, said 37 people were transported to other hospitals and he said other people were likely still buried in the rubble.

The explosion sent a column of smoke billowing over the area on the western edge of Mexico’s capital and television images showed much of the hospital collapsed, with firefighters trying to extinguish fires. Mancera said the heaviest damage was near the hospital’s loading dock.

Mancera said the blast apparently was caused by a leak in the hose carrying gas from the truck to the hospital, which is operated by the city.

“The truck must have had some failure, the hose and that’s what caused the explosion,” Mancera said. He said that fire continued burning because firefighters recommended that they allow the truck’s remaining gas to burn off. He said there was no risk of another explosion.

Ismael Garcia, 27, who lives a block from the hospital, said “there was a super explosion and everything caught on fire.”

Garcia ran toward the hospital where the truck had exploded and was told it had been connecting to the kitchen when the explosion occurred.

Garcia and others entered the hospital and made their way to the nursery. “Fortunately, we were able to get eight babies out,” he said.

Rubalcava said the injured were being taken to a nearby hospital, but the area had insufficient ambulances.

Rafael Gonzalez of the Red Cross said one 38-year-old woman was stable in their hospital in Polanco while a 27-year-old man who had initially been taken there was transferred again with burns over 90 percent of his body.

President Enrique Pena Nieto expressed his sadness and support for the victims through his official Twitter account.

According to a government website, the hospital was founded in 1993 and counted 35 beds. It is located in a densely populated lower middle class neighborhood next to a school.

TIME energy

Iraq Shrugs Off Low Prices, Boosts Output To Record Levels

iraqi-flag
Getty Images

More is on the way as Iraq plans on doubling oil exports from its fields in the north near the city of Kirkuk

Despite oil prices at their lowest levels in five years, Iraq is producing at record levels.

For the month of December, Iraq produced nearly 4 million barrels per day, according to Oil Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, an all-time high for the war-torn country. That is critical for a government that depends on oil for more than 90 percent of its revenues. Rather than paring back production levels to stop a price slide, Iraq is doing what all rational actors are aiming to do (if they can): produce more oil to make up for lost revenues from rock bottom prices.

“Because of the new challenges, especially the price of oil, Iraq has to try its best to raise it oil production and exports,” Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch Nuri Shaways said in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 21.

OPEC has continuously vowed to let the market sort itself out rather than try to fix falling prices, which has the oil cartel staring down high-cost production in North America. In its latest monthly report, OPEC reported an uptick in production – the 12-member group produced an average of 30.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, about 142,000 bpd more than the previous month. The increase came almost entirely from Iraq, which does not operate under the OPEC quota. Iraq managed to boost monthly output by 285,000 bpd, more than offsetting a decline of 184,000 bpd in Libya.

And more is on the way. Iraq plans on doubling oil exports from its fields in the north near Kirkuk. Currently, the Kirkuk fields export just 150,000 bpd, but pending pipeline upgrades will allow that figure to rise to 300,000 bpd “in the coming few weeks,” according to an official with Kirkuk’s oil and gas committee.

With production set to climb further, U.S. shale producers will be under even greater pressure. There is a lot of talk about breakeven prices for OPEC members and the stress they are under, but early evidence suggests they have an edge. OPEC production is inching upwards and U.S. shale producers are in the midst of slashing spending. That could allow the oil cartel to shore up its market share.

Iraq is defying the odds – it managed to overcome an ISIS insurgency and political factionalism to strengthen its oil sector in an otherwise disastrous year in 2014. As recently as July, Iraq was on the verge of disintegrating, with ISIS militants overrunning the country and forcing the dissolution of much of the Iraqi military. The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) was poised to make a bid for independence as it seized disputed territory abdicated by Iraqi security forces.

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However, the country has been brought back from the abyss. ISIS has seen its lightning advance stall and the group has been beaten back by Kurdish fighters and U.S. airstrikes.

More importantly was the oil deal forged between the KRG and the Iraqi central government in December, a political breakthrough that paved the way for further oil exports. Under the terms of the deal, Kurdistan will export 250,000 bpd and Kirkuk will export 300,000 bpd. It marked a huge win for the KRG, which will be allowed to export oil, access its 17 percent share of national revenues, and maintain its implicit control over Kirkuk.

But the oil will flow under the auspices of the Iraqi State Organization for Marketing Oil (SOMO), a key demand from Baghdad. This will keep the KRG in the fold, ending an independence campaign for now. The deal allows a unified, although fragile and temporary, approach to exporting oil.

“This agreement represents a victory for all Iraqis,” Masoud Haidar, a Kurdish member of the parliament, said after the historic deal was made. “There are no losers in this agreement. All are winners.”

The first monthly data released since the deal was made more or less confirms that sentiment. Despite the horrific violence that descended upon Iraq in 2014, it succeeded in boosting output to record levels, and there is no reason to believe production increases will stop anytime soon.

This article originally appeared on OilPrice.com.

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TIME energy

When Will Oil Markets Find a Bottom?

No one really knows the answer, but the data suggests that prices will find a bottom as soon as this balancing is felt by the market. Or not

Remember the Sesame Street song?

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

OK. Which curve on this chart is not like the others?

EIATop15LiquidsProducingCountries
Oilprice.com

It’s the U.S. and Canada’s oil production curve over the past several years.

That’s why oil prices have fallen: too much oil for the demand in the world. The tight oil from North America is the prime suspect in the production surplus that’s pushing down oil prices.

Now that you know the answer, let’s talk about IEA’s January report that was released. Here are my main takes from the report:

1. The fourth quarter 2014 supply surplus was 890,000 barrels per day (see the chart below). That is the difference between supply and demand. We can argue about whether it was mainly supply or mainly demand-I’ve stated my belief that it’s mostly supply-but that’s the difference between them. That is why oil prices are falling.

2. This surplus amount is 170,000 barrels per day greater than in the previous quarter.

3. Demand in the first half of 2015 will be 900,000 barrels per day lower than in the fourth quarter (see the second chart below). 1st half demand is usually lower than 2nd half but that means that prices could fall again.

4. 3rd quarter 2015 demand will increase by 1,530,000 barrels per day and 4th quarter demand will increase another 420,000 barrels per day. That is a lot and would take demand to record highs. This should go a long way towards moving prices higher.

IEAWorldLiquidsSupplyDemand
Oilprice.com
IEADemandForecast2015
Oilprice.com

 

Now, these are only estimates and IEA is notoriously wrong in their forecasts but that’s what we have to work with. They don’t estimate production which is too bad but the report says that 2015 production is now revised down 350,000 barrels per day from previous estimates. IEA expects that most of that will happen in the 2nd half of 2015 after North American tight oil production starts falling.

So, where does that leave us? The problem is mostly about supply but demand has to increase if we’re going to fix the surplus problem in 2015 because supply is not expected to fall that much.

I think this means that prices will increase in 2015 but not a lot unless something else happens. That something else will probably be an OPEC and Russia production cut in June after the next OPEC meeting.

Remember, the supply surplus in the 4th quarter of 2014 was less than 1 million barrels per day. OPEC can easily accommodate this and has made bigger cuts as recently as 2009.

Some geopolitical crisis could also happen in the coming year and that might add $20/barrel or so. Negative things for a price increase could also happen like demand not growing as much as IEA forecasts or production not falling enough.

When do oil prices stop falling? No one knows and this data doesn’t have enough resolution much less reliability to help answer the question.

EIA, however, may offer some help here. EIA publishes monthly world data and, in the chart below, they show supply and demand in approximate balance for November and December of 2014.

EIASupply&Demand
Oilprice.com

That may signal that prices will find a bottom as soon as this balancing is felt by the market. Or not.

This article originally appeared on OilPrice.com.

Read more from Oilprice.com:

TIME foreign affairs

Exclusive: Dalai Lama, Barack Obama Set to Appear in Public Together for First Time

Tibetan leader will participate in the Feb. 5 National Prayer Breakfast where the President is expected to attend. Obama has never appeared publicly with Tibetan leader who is viewed by the Chinese government as a dissident

The Dalai Lama will attend this year’s National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 5, marking the first time that the Tibetan leader will appear in public at an event that President Obama is expected to also attend, according to a press aide for Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, who is co-chair of the event.

“The Dalai Lama will be at the breakfast, but he does not have a speaking role,” Casey aide Alex Miller tells TIME in an email. The White House did not immediately confirm the report.

President Obama has previously met with the Dalai Lama three times, despite the strong objections of the Chinese government who considers the Tibetan leader a dissident. In the past, the White House has not allowed reporters to witness the meetings, which have been staged outside the Oval Office in deference to Chinese objections.

The National Prayer Breakfast is an annual, historically Christian event at the Washington Hilton for hundreds of mostly evangelical and other faith leaders. The President of the United States and First Lady have long attended, and the President traditionally speaks.

Following the Dalai Lama’s last private meeting with Obama in 2014, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui summoned a U.S. diplomat to register his nation’s objections. “The Tibetan issue is the domestic affair of China, and the United States bears no right to interfere,” he said, according to the Xinhua news agency. “Such a move will gravely sabotage China-US co-operation and relations, and will definitely undermine its own interests.”

Senator Casey (D., Pa.) and Senator Roger Wicker (R., Miss.) are co-chairing the congressional side of this year’s event. The breakfast is sponsored by a conservative evangelical group, the Fellowship, run by Douglas Coe. Christians have usually given the keynote address, but last year, U.S. Agency for International Development administrator Rajiv Shah, a Hindu, spoke.

TIME Military

Obama’s Awkward Farewell to Hagel

President Obama Attends Armed Forces Farewell Tribute To Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the defense chief's formal farewell ceremony Wednesday. Win McNamee / Getty Images

The President pushed his Pentagon chief, then praised him.

Wednesday afternoon marked another one of those painful spectacles, where someone being forced out of the national spotlight was forced to grin and bear it as the person responsible for forcing him out publicly sang his praises. This time it featured President Obama hailing the brief, two-year tenure of Chuck Hagel, his third defense secretary.

Hagel—who will hang around the Pentagon for weeks until his successor, Ashton Carter, is confirmed—has spent recent days prowling the bowels of the Pentagon, thanking the unseen and unheralded for their work.

Hagel has been saying goodbye to Pentagon workers in recent days. DoD photo

While the two men haven’t spelled out precisely what went wrong, disagreements over policies involving Syria and the detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are often cited. And Hagel’s body language since the White House shoved him out Nov. 24, made Wednesday’s formal sendoff in an Army hall not far from the Pentagon particularly awkward.

Obama: In October of 1967, President Lyndon Johnson traveled to a military base in New Mexico to review a top secret weapons program. And he went down to the White Sands Missile Range and out to the testing grounds. There, out in the desert, the president watched as soldiers demonstrated what would later become the famed Stinger Missile. And one of those soldiers was a 21-year old private from Nebraska named Charles Timothy Hagel. Now, the Secret Service does not usually let me get too close to an active weapons system. It makes them nervous…And let me assure you that I checked with the Secret Service, and Chuck will not be demonstrating any missile launches today…

Thanks to Secretary Hagel’s guiding hand, this institution is better positioned for the future. But Chuck, I want to suggest today that perhaps your greatest impact, a legacy that will be felt for decades to come, has been your own example. It’s not simply that you’ve been the first enlisted combat veteran and first Vietnam veteran to serve as secretary of defense, it’s how your life experience: being down in the mud, feeling the bullets fly overhead, has allowed you to connect with our troops like no other secretary before you.

At least some observers found Obama’s “joke” about Stingers off-key, given the fragging that went on in Vietnam. Hagel, who declined to attend the White House ceremony at which Obama announced Carter as his successor, however, dutifully took the podium and was gracious.

Hagel: Mr. President…thank you for being here today… I will soon leave this job that I have cherished… The opportunity to have been a part of all this is something I could not have imagined when I joined the Army 48 years ago… We’ve made mistakes. We will make more mistakes… One last point. Of all the opportunities my life has given me, and I have been blessed with so many, I am most proud of having once been a soldier.

In the end, everyone was glad it was over.

TIME

New Deadline Approaches in ISIS Hostage Crisis

A poster showing ISIS-held Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, seen on a street pole in Amman, Jan. 29, 2015.
A poster showing ISIS-held Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, seen on a street pole in Amman, Jan. 29, 2015. Nasser Nasser—AP

The cases of the Japanese hostage, the Jordanian pilot and the Iraqi prisoner held in Jordan have become intertwined in recent days

(TOKYO) — A sunset deadline was approaching Thursday in the Middle East for Jordan to release an Iraqi prisoner or face the death of a captured Jordanian air force pilot, according to the latest threat purportedly issued by the Islamic State group.

The audio message was read in English by a voice the Japanese government said was likely that of Kenji Goto, a Japanese hostage also held by the militant group, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq.

It was released online after Jordan offered Wednesday to hand over the prisoner, an al-Qaida-linked would-be suicide bomber, in exchange for Jordanian air force pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh.

The Associated Press could not independently verify the contents of the recording, which was distributed on Twitter by Islamic State-affiliated accounts.

The cases of the Japanese hostage, the Jordanian pilot and the Iraqi prisoner held in Jordan have become intertwined in recent days. The prisoner is Sajida al-Rishawi, a woman convicted of involvement in deadly Amman hotel bombings in 2005.

The recording says the pilot will be killed if the prisoner is not presented at the Turkish border in exchange for Goto’s life by sunset. It’s not clear what would happen to Goto if the Iraqi woman is not returned by the deadline.

In Tokyo, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Thursday the government was in close communications with the Jordan government. He said Japan was doing its utmost to free Goto, working with nations in the region, including Turkey, Jordan and Israel.

“As the situation is developing, I shouldn’t comment on details. But, Japan and Jordan are dealing with the matter based on an extremely trusting relationship,” Suga told reporters.

Efforts to free al-Kaseasbeh and Goto gained urgency after a purported online ultimatum claimed Tuesday that the Islamic State group would kill both hostages within 24 hours if Jordan did not free al-Rishawi.

Japan has scrambled to deal with the crisis that began last week with the release of a video by the Islamic State group showing Goto and another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, kneeling in orange jumpsuits between a masked man who threatened to kill them within 72 hours unless Japan paid a $200 million ransom.

That demand has since shifted to one for the release of al-Rishawi. The militants have reportedly killed Yukawa, 42, although that has not been confirmed.

“This heinous terrorist act is totally unforgivable,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in parliament Thursday.

Goto, a freelance journalist, was captured in October in Syria, apparently while trying to rescue Yukawa, who was taken hostage last summer.

In Tokyo, Goto’s mother, Junko Ishido, has been desperately pleading for the government to save her son.

“I know Mr. Abe is someone who can handle this matter. I trust Mr. Abe and I can do nothing but rely on him,” she said.

Releasing the would-be hotel bomber linked to al-Qaida would breach Jordan’s usual hard-line approach to the extremists and set a precedent for negotiating with them.

It would also be a coup for the Islamic State group, which has already overrun large parts of neighboring Syria and Iraq. Jordan is part of a U.S.-led military alliance that has carried out airstrikes against the extremist group in Syria and Iraq in recent months.

The Islamic State group has not publicly demanded prisoner releases before and Jordan’s main ally, the United States, opposes negotiations with extremists.

Jordanian King Abdullah II faces growing domestic pressure to bring the pilot home. The pilot’s father said he met on Wednesday with Jordan’s king, who he said assured him that “everything will be fine.”

The pilot’s capture has hardened popular opposition among Jordanians to the air strikes, analysts said

“Public opinion in Jordan is putting huge pressure on the government to negotiate with the Islamic State group,” said Marwan Shehadeh, a scholar with ties to ultra-conservative Islamic groups in Jordan. “If the government doesn’t make a serious effort to release him, the morale of the entire military will deteriorate and the public will lose trust in the political regime.”

Jordan reportedly is holding indirect talks with the militants through religious and tribal leaders in Iraq to secure the release of the hostages. In his brief statement, al-Momani only said Jordan is willing to swap al-Rishawi for the pilot. He did not say if such an exchange is being arranged.

The 26-year-old pilot, al-Kaseasbeh, was seized after his Jordanian F-16 crashed in December near the Islamic State group’s de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria. He is the first foreign military pilot the militants have captured since the coalition began its airstrikes in August.

Previous captives may have been freed in exchange for ransom, although the governments involved have refused to confirm any payments were made.

The Islamic State group broke with al-Qaida’s central leadership in 2013 and has clashed with its Syrian branch, but it reveres the global terror network’s former Iraqi affiliate, which battled U.S. forces and claimed the 2005 Amman attack.

___

Laub reported from Amman, Jordan. Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan, and Kaori Hitomi, Mari Yamaguchi, Emily Wang and Koji Ueda in Tokyo contributed to this report.

TIME Argentina

Murdered Argentine Prosecutor ‘Didn’t Trust His Bodyguards’

Diego Lagomarsino , assistant of late prosecutor Alberto Nisman speaks during a press conference in Buenos Aires, Jan. 28, 2015.
Diego Lagomarsino, assistant of late prosecutor Alberto Nisman speaks during a press conference in Buenos Aires, Jan. 28, 2015. David Fernandez—EPA

Diego Lagomarsino had been in hiding since Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor investigating the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head.

The man who lent Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman the gun that killed him said Nisman had told him he was afraid for his family’s life.

Diego Lagomarsino said at a news conference on Wednesday that he lent the pistol to Nisman, his employer who was found dead in his apartment on Jan. 18, after the prosecutor told him he did not even trust the bodyguards, Reuters reports.

“At this point, he cracked up, and said: ‘Do you know what it is like for your children not to want to be with you just in case something happens to them?” Lagomarsino said, according to Reuters.

Lagomarsino was charged on Tuesday with illegally lending a weapon that was registered in his name, becoming the only person so far charged in Nisman’s mysterious death, which investigators initially indicated was a suicide while others, including President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, say they believe he was murdered.

Nisman was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and was set to testify before Congress the day after he died about his allegations that Fernández covered up Iran’s alleged involvement in the attack.

[Reuters]

TIME Afghanistan

Kabul Suicide Bomber Strikes Funeral for Taliban Victims and Kills 16

Afghan relatives weep for the victims as they arrive at the hospital following a suicide attack which targeted funeral prayers in Mehtarlam city, of Laghman province on Jan. 29, 2014.
Afghan relatives weep for the victims as they arrive at the hospital following a suicide attack which targeted funeral prayers in Mehtarlam city, of Laghman province on Jan. 29, 2014. Wazeem Naikzad—AFP/Getty Images

Insurgents are increasingly targeting local police and Afghan forces after most foreign troops withdrew at the end of last month

KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan official says a suicide bomber has struck a funeral for the victims of an earlier Taliban attack, killing 16 and wounding 39 in eastern Laghman province.

The local governor’s spokesman, Sarhadi Zwak, says the bomber detonated his explosives and blew himself up among mourners gathered for the funeral on Thursday in the provincial capital of Mihtarlam.

The funeral was for a police commander and three other people killed earlier in the day in a roadside bombing. Officials said the Taliban were behind that attack.

Zwak says police investigations chief Khlil Nyazi was among the 16 killed at the funeral, along with three other police officers. Three policemen were also among the 39 wounded.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.

This is the latest violence after a spate of Taliban attacks across Afghanistan overnight and on Thursday morning killed at least 17 people, officials said. It comes as insurgents increasingly target local police and Afghan forces after most foreign combat troops withdrew at the end of last month.

A deadly attack took place late Wednesday in the central Ghazni province, where Taliban insurgents attacked a checkpoint in Andar district, killing 11 members of a pro-government militia that was manning the post and wounding six.

As the militia fought back, six insurgents were killed and seven were wounded, according to Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, deputy governor in central Ghazni province.

The province’s deputy police chief, Asadullha Ensafi, said the insurgents had inside information from one of their own who had managed to infiltrate the volunteer militia last year.

In a message, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack on the checkpoint.

On Thursday morning, a roadside bomb killed four people, including a policeman, in eastern Laghman province, said spokesman Sarhadi Zwak. The bombing, for which he blamed the Taliban, took place in the provincial capital of Mihtarlam.

And in the district of Sayed Abad in Wardak province east of the capital, Kabul, Taliban fighters ragged two villagers from their home and killed them, according to spokesman Attaullha Khugyani.

TIME Philippines

Rare Megamouth Shark Washes Up In The Philippines

Fishermen use a stretcher with steels bars to carry a rare 15-foot megamouth shark, which was trapped in a fishermen's net in Burias Pass in Albay and Masbate provinces, central Philippines, Jan. 28, 2015.
Fishermen use a stretcher with steels bars to carry a rare 15-foot megamouth shark, which was trapped in a fishermen's net in Burias Pass in Albay and Masbate provinces, central Philippines, Jan. 28, 2015. Rhaydz Barcia—Reuters

Very little is known about the megamouth shark, an extremely rare species of deepwater shark that was first discovered in 1976

A dead megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) was discovered by fishermen in the Philippines on Wednesday, providing a rare glimpse of a mysterious animal that spends much of its life in the deep ocean.

It was found in the Burias Pass, located between the Albay and Masbate provinces of central Philippines. Less than 70 megamouth sharks have ever been spotted, according to marine biologist Christopher Bird and Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines.

The 15-foot male was dead when it was discovered. The cause of death is unknown. Very little is known about the megamouth shark, an extremely rare species of deepwater shark that was only first discovered in 1976. Most wash up on the coasts of the Philippines, Japan and Taiwan.

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

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