Beware the Ides of March

The 15th of March isn't filled with doom. It's just another day.

The 15th is the Ides of March, and you know what that means. You don’t? Oh. It wasn’t good for Julius Caesar — he got stabbed 23 times by his trusted friends on this day in 44 B.C. Fast forward a few thousand years and Ryan Gosling gets fired from George Clooney’s presidential campaign in the political drama The Ides of March. Even Homer Simpson is warned of his downfall on the Ides of March after being the Chosen One of the Stonecutters club. The Ides of March have a doom-filled reputation, but every month has its Ides. Let TIME be your soothsayer and explain exactly why you should, or shouldn’t, beware.


HIV Prevention Gel Shows Promise

A gel that could be used after sex to protect against HIV is a step closer to reality

Researchers are a step closer to developing a vaginal gel that could protect women against HIV, according to a study published in Science Translational Medicine, though scientists admit more testing is necessary.

The difference between this study and others on prevention gels? This gel was applied and tested after sex. A team of U.S. researchers found that the gel protected five out of six monkeys from an animal-human laboratory strain of HIV when applied shortly before or up to three hours after infection, the BBC reported.

Since the drug has the potential to work after HIV exposure, the findings could lead to new ways to fight HIV particularly in cases of rape as the virus continues to spread globally.

TIME Puerto Rico

The Next Financial Catastrophe You Haven’t Heard About Yet: Puerto Rico

On Tuesday, the island sold $3.5 billion in new debt. But the crisis still poses a danger to everyday U.S. investors

Until recently, Puerto Rico was an investors’ tax heaven, renowned for its sandy beaches and killer rum. But the island is in dire financial condition and thousands of U.S. mom-and-pop investors may lose a big part of their savings if the small territory goes bankrupt.

It all started with an over-borrowing spree that lasted for decades. It ended with an island of fewer than four million residents accumulating $70 billion dollars in debt. That is a debt per capita of around $10,600 – or 10 times the median for U.S. states, according to the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s.

Puerto Rico’s over-borrowing was facilitated by an eager group of U.S. investors. U.S. mutual funds were more than willing to buy Puerto Rico bonds, because the island has a special financial advantage: its bonds are triple tax-exempt, which means that bondholders do not pay federal, state and local taxes for their coupon income (i.e. interest) from the bonds.

This created a large buyers base for Puerto Rico’s bonds, which encouraged the commonwealth to keep issuing debt. As a result, today around 70 percent of U.S. mutual funds own Puerto Rico securities, according to Morningstar, an investment research firm that specializes in data on mutual funds and similar investment offerings.

But Puerto Rico did not handle prudently enough this easy cash flow that was coming in. “For years, Puerto Rico practiced deficit financing, which essentially means taking out long-term debt to cover short-term financial needs; this was created by too much spending relative to revenues,” says municipal bond market expert Chris Mier, chief strategist at Loop Capital, an investment bank and advisory firm.

“This is unsustainable from an economic policy point of view in the long run, but since the ratings remained above investment grade, the buyers of the debt did not worry excessively,” says Mier.

The spark that lit the fuse came in 1996, when President Clinton repealed legislation that gave tax incentives for U.S. companies to locate facilities in Puerto Rico. The island’s economy began to sputter, and after the great recession, the decline in the island’s governmental finances continued.

At at time when the island is experiencing steady population loss and very low productivity, the unsustainability of unbalanced budgets and rapidly growing debt became increasingly evident.

Then the downgrades came: in the past several years, ratings agencies gradually downgraded Puerto Rico’s debt notch by notch. And the island’s government continued to promise investors that it would pass a balanced budget – something that has not occurred in over a decade.

To make things worse, a “brain drain” is occurring, as young qualified professionals are fleeing an unemployment rate of 15.4%, compared to the 6.6% federal unemployment rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The fact that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens makes migration much easier and appealing, says Puerto Rican consultant Heidie Calero, president of Calero Consulting Group.

Currently, Puerto Rico’s population is 3.7 million on the island, versus 4.9 million Puerto Ricans living on the U.S. mainland. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the island’s population will drop to 2.3 million in 2050.

“Around 51 percent of the island’s population is on welfare. How do you make them participate in the economy?” asks Calero. The size of the island’s “underground economy” was recently estimated at approximately $20 billion; and that is just an approximation since nobody really knows how much revenue goes unaccounted for, says Calero.

In February 2014, all three major ratings agencies downgraded Puerto Rico’s debt to below investment grade, widely referred to as ”junk” status in bond market circles. This indicates a greater risk of possible default or a debt restructuring. For U.S. investors, this means that the crisis in Puerto Rico will have a severe impact, not only on Wall Street but also on thousands of mom-and-pop investors.

The decline in market value of Puerto Rico bonds has reduced the value of investors’ holdings by at times as much as 35%, says Mier. But Mier cautions that there are many possible scenarios, including favorable ones where Puerto Rico succeeds in resolving its budget and debt problems and returns to investment grade ratings.

But to do that, the government needs to balance two seemingly conflicting goals: economic growth and fiscal austerity, says economist Carlos Soto-Santoni, president of Nexos Económicos, a Puerto Rico-based consulting firm, and deputy advisor for former Governor Rafael Hernández Colón’s administration.

In 2013 alone, the government passed $ 1.36 billion in new taxes. While this increases the government’s revenue, it makes doing business on the island more onerous – which in turn further impedes economic growth, says Soto-Santoni.

Solving the economic puzzle will determine whether Puerto Rico will be for the U.S. what Greece was for the European Union.

Ellie Ismailidou is a reporter for Debtwire Municipals


Meet the Geniuses on a Quixotic Quest to Archive the Entire Internet

Contrary to popular belief, the internet is not forever. Our digital heritage needs to be saved.

Wake up, check your phone. Go to work, log on. Get home, surf the net. The World Wide Web has changed how we interact with the world over the past 25 years. It’s almost hard to believe that it began as a side project to the Large Hadron Collider. Tim Berners-Lee, father of the Internet, came up with the idea to help the physicists organize better, even when they could not physically be at the collider.

But after 25 years and untold numbers of websites, blogs, and browsers, the web is what needs to be organized. While some sites like the Space Jam homepage or DoleKemp96.org have remained embalmed in the ether of the Ethernet since the early days, most sites don’t last that long. Web historians are trying to save our online past, whether it be rebuilding early in-line web browser to run on a modern computer or meticulously archiving page after page.


5 Things To Know About Prince Harry’s Girlfriend

Sorry ladies, but you may have to leave your hopes of marrying a British royal behind. Rumors suggest Prince Harry is about to pop the question to Cressida Bonas.

Ready for Royal wedding No. 2?

Prince Harry took his girlfriend, Cressida Bonas, to a charity event in London on Friday, the twentysomething’s first official appearance by the prince’s side. The pair also popped up at a rugby game on Sunday. The speculation is, Harry is preparing to pop the question and royal observers are already buzzing with excitement.

Bonas is a dancer, she brought the scrunchie back en vogue and she is a member of the royal family’s inner crowd. In fact, Princess Eugenie reportedly introduced the Leeds University graduate to Harry.

Want to know more about the lucky girl who may have won the prince’s heart? Watch the video above for details.


A Timeline of the Crisis in Crimea

Russia and Ukraine share a long and interconnected history, shaped by a common Slavic culture and the ambitions of Moscow’s imperial rulers. The current crisis in Crimea is rooted in that history, but represent the latest escalation in a series of changes that began with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

As the situation continues to unfold over the coming days and weeks, Russians and Ukrainians will confront hard choices about how far to go in challenging one another and how much suffering each nation can endure.

TIME Explainer

Admit It: Daylight Saving Time Is This Weekend And You Don’t Know What It Is, Either

TIME explains Daylight Saving Time

Correction appended Nov. 2, 8:42 am ET

Daylight Saving Time is one of the universe’s great mysteries, like the afterlife, or who really killed JFK. It was one of the things you assumed you’d never understand. But it’s time for TIME to break down Daylight Saving Time.

First of all, it ends this weekend (Saturday night going into Sunday, to be exact), having started way back in March. And since we spring forward and fall back, we’ll all be getting one extra hour of sleep Sunday morning. Hooray!

Daylight Saving Time dates back to the good ole’ days when we did everything based on when we had sunlight. It got more serious when Benjamin Franklin decided to be “that guy,” suggesting we all get up earlier to save money on candles. Thanks, Benji. It was a major blow to all the unhappy, unhealthy, and unwise people who love to snooze.

The practice wasn’t formally implemented until World War I, when countries at war started setting their clocks back to save on coal. Daylight Saving was repealed during peacetime, and then revived again during World War II. More than 70 countries currently practice Daylight Saving Time, because they think it saves money on electricity (in the U.S., Arizona and Hawaii have opted out).

But studies show that Daylight Saving Time actually results in a one percent overall increase in residential electricity. And that it messes with sleeping patterns. Oh, and also it may cause heart attacks, according to the American Journal of Cardiology. So it’s no surprise that more and more countries are reevaluating whether to hold on to this relic from the past.

But like all great mysteries, the answers only beget more questions: Does your iPhone automatically update for Daylight Saving Time?

Actually, yes, it does.

Correction: This article was originally updated without revising the date Daylight Savings Time ends.
TIME celebrities

Chef Arnold Schwarzenegger Makes an Epic Sandwich

Bacon, beef, two baking-sheet-sized buns and ostrich eggs cooked on a tank? It's a sandwich fit for the Terminator

Perhaps you’ve heard of Epic Meal Time, the YouTube-based Canadian cooking show that blew up in 2011 featuring impressively high-calorie meals — often comprising a handful of meats, vats of sauce and several pigs’ worth of bacon. If ever there were a movie star capable of matching those gargantuan portions in human form, that star would definitely be Terminator‘s Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The two-term California governor met with the Epic Meal Time gang to create the aptly named “Steak & Egger Sandwich,” and even fried an enormous ostrich egg directly on his own M47 Patton tank. The Commando star also gamely re-appropriated a few of his memorable one-liners for the segment, including, most notably: “Remember when I said I didn’t bring the buns? I lied.”

(via YouTube)

TIME movies

Go Behind the Scenes of Divergent With Shailene Woodley

A little taste of the action to come — and some Theo James eye candy, too

In the futuristic world of Divergent, society has been split up into factions based on five main traits: Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (peacefulness), Candor (honesty), Dauntless (bravery), and Erudite (intelligence). Beatrice “Tris” Prior, played by Shailene Woodley, doesn’t fit easily into any one of those groups — she’s divergent, and it’s a secret she has to keep, or her life is in danger.

The video above shows behind-the-scenes footage of Woodley and co-star Theo James in various action scenes that take place throughout the film, from landing on a safety net after a multiple-story-high fall to climbing up the side of a ferris wheel. Woodley also discusses the look and feel of the film as a whole.

“The world of Divergent is giant — it’s sort of unfathomable,” Woodley says with a laugh. “It’s one thing to read a book, especially a book about the future, and then to come up with that world… They created something that is relatable, you know, it’s something that we recognize in today’s world, in today’s society, but it’s also tweaked just enough to establish that it is something of the future.”

Author Veronica Roth, who wrote the book on which the movie is based, seemed to share similar sentiments about the realization of the world she created. After viewing the movie for the first time, she wrote on her blog: “And we were so lucky to have Neil Burger driving this — his vision of the world, the amazing details and subtleties of it, his understanding of the story, and how seriously he took every part of it… I mean, you can tell. You can see it everywhere.”

The film is predicted to make $50 million on opening weekend, and hits theaters March 21. Watch the trailer here:

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