1 Supply glut pulls oil lower (BBC) The price of oil has fallen to fresh five-year lows in the wake of two separate reports indicating a global supply glut. Opec oil producers released a forecast indicating less global oil demand next year. A separate US report, which showed a surprise increase in the country’s crude oil supplies, also pushed prices lower.
The price of Brent crude has fallen 43% since mid-June. It fell another 3.61% to close at $64.41 on Wednesday. The influential oil commentator Jorge Montepeque at price assessor Platts said the price could fall further. “There are a certain amount of people that think the mid-to-long term [price] is the mid-60’s,” he said.
In its report, Opec said that it expected demand for its crude oil to fall to 28.9m barrels per day next year, which is near ten-year lows. Opec’s official production target is 30m barrels per day, meaning significantly more oil would be on the market than was demanded.
The decline in oil prices has hurt the share price of several large firms, from Exxon Mobil to BP, but helped businesses such as airlines where cheap oil prices can help buoy profits.
2 Protecting India’s women (KumKum Dasgupta in The Guardian) The rape of a young woman by a taxi driver in Delhi has again left the city and the country traumatised, and searching for answers on how to end this tide of violence against women. Despite rising levels of education, gender awareness and stringent pro-women laws, there is still a perception that women are second-class citizens.
Violence against women is increasing. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, an average of 92 women are raped in India every day. The total number of reported rapes rose to 33,707 in 2013 from 24,923 in 2012.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is endemic. A study by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), a US-based research institute, and the UN population fund, UNFPA, said 52% of women surveyed had experienced violence during their lifetime, and 60% of the male respondents said they had acted violently against their wife or partner. The study found that the average Indian man is “convinced that masculinity is about acting tough, freely exercising his privilege to lay down the rules in personal relationships and, above all, controlling women”.
“Physical violence is not the only form of violence women in India face. In rural parts, women, especially those who belong to the Dalit community, are often denied land rights, and their children, especially girls, bear the brunt of this discrimination. They are denied proper schooling and health facilities,” says Anita Katyar, a civil society activist in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Despite rising awareness, change on the ground has been slow because authorities have not been able to get their act together: most initiatives that were announced after the December 2012 gang-rape in Delhi have not been implemented. The result was evident in last week’s attack. But whether this will lead to any positive change for women is far from clear.
3 Time names Ebola fighters ‘person’ of the year (Straits Times) Time magazine has named as its “Person of the Year 2014” the medics treating the Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 6,300 people, paying tribute to their courage and mercy. The haemorrhagic fever mushroomed from an outbreak into an epidemic in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, and there have been scattered cases in Nigeria, Mali, Spain, Germany and the United States.
“The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight,” wrote Time editor Nancy Gibbs, announcing the prestigious annual title. “For tireless acts of courage and mercy, for buying the world time to boost its defences, for risking, for persisting, for sacrificing and saving, the Ebola fighters are Time’s 2014 Person of the Year.”
The worst ever Ebola outbreak has left more than 6,300 people dead worldwide, nearly all in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Health workers have been among the worst hit, with 340 deaths out of 592 cases.
“Ebola is a war, and a warning. The global health system is nowhere close to strong enough to keep us safe from infectious disease,” wrote Gibbs. “And ‘us’ means everyone, not just those in faraway places where this is one threat among many that claim lives every day.”
The runners-up chosen by Time were protesters who took to the streets in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson to condemn the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer. Also short-listed were Russian President Vladimir Putin, Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, and China’s richest man Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba.