TIME World

What is Prince Harry’s Big Secret?

Sentebale Polo Cup Presented By Royal Salute World Polo In Abu Dhabi With Prince Harry - Red Carpet
Chris Jackson—Royal Salute/Getty Images Prince Harry attends the Sentebale Polo Cup presented by Royal Salute World Polo at Ghantoot Polo Club in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 20, 2014.

Prince delivers a revelation on YouTube in support of World Aids Day

As part of the Feel No Shame campaign launched on World AIDS Day to reduce stigma around HIV, British Prince Harry divulged a secret on Monday, telling viewers that “believe it or not, I get incredibly nervous before public speaking, no matter how big the crowd or the audience.”

The campaign is being run by Sentebale, a charity co-founded by the prince in 2006 in order to support children affected by the AIDS crisis in Lesotho.

In a video message, Prince Harry said: “Despite the fact that I laugh and joke all the time, I get incredibly nervous, if not anxious, before going into rooms full of people when I’m wearing a suit. And now that I’ve confessed that, I’ll probably be even more worried that people are looking at me.”

Harry has shared his secret using the hashtag #feelnoshame, and asked the public to share their own secrets via social media in exchange for his. Several celebrities have joined the campaign. Singer Nicole Scherzinger told viewers that “sometimes I don’t feel like I’m enough, that I’m worth it and that I don’t fit in, but #feelnoshame.” Actress Gemma Arterton kept her secret more lighthearted, admitting that she has never watched Star Wars or Back to the Future.

Prince Harry said he wanted World AIDS Day to become a “day in which no-one should feel any shame about their secrets.” He appealed for support for the cause, reminding people that the virus “is the second-highest cause of death amongst those aged between 10-19 years old, and it is the number one cause of death across Africa.”

“One tragic issue in particular is the shame and stigma linked to HIV,” he added. “This causes thousands of children to needlessly die each year because they’re keeping their illness a secret and not getting the medical attention they need.”


Russia’s Currency Has Worst Fall Since 1998 as Oil Rout Continues

Economy set to shrink next year as prices surge and purchasing power collapses

The dollar surged nearly 4% against the ruble Monday as the ongoing rout in world oil prices sent the Russian currency spiraling.

The move was the ruble’s biggest one-day fall since 1998, when another (much bigger) collapse in oil prices led the country to default on its domestic debt.

The dollar, which bought 33 rubles at the start of the year, surged past 50 for the first time ever, touching a new all-time high of 52.66 before retreating fractionally. That mirrored a fresh slump in oil prices during Asian trading, which sent benchmark crude futures to their lowest levels since May 2009.

Oil prices have been in free-fall since the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries refused to cut output last week in order to bring the market back into balance and end the current glut.

That’s having a huge impact, not only on the stock of energy companies, but also on the economies of those countries which depend on oil for their budgets and foreign debt payments. Aside from Russia, the Nigerian naira has also plummeted, losing nearly 10% against the dollar in the last few days, while the price of Venezuela’s bonds has tumbled to levels which reflect high expectations of default.

But it’s the ruble, the world’s worst-performing currency this year, which is most in the spotlight, especially since the Russian central bank decided to abandon its policy of supporting the exchange rate with a drip-feed of interventions last month. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said last week the combined effect of lower oil prices and sanctions would slash $140 billion off the Russian economy this year.

Russia is one of Europe’s largest trading partners, and the collapse in trade and investment between the two this year, following the annexation of Crimea and the armed revolt in eastern Ukraine, has been the biggest single factor as the Eurozone’s recovery has ground to a halt.

The collapse of the ruble’s purchasing power is likely to drive the Russian economy into recession next year. Igor Sechin, chairman of the national oil champion OAO Rosneft, said last week he expects oil prices to average between $70-75 a barrel next year–a level that economists at Sberbank will cause the economy to shrink by some 2%.

There was further evidence of the fallout on Europe Monday as research firm Markit revised down its November Purchasing Managers Index for the Eurozone to 50.1, its lowest in nearly 18 months, as the three biggest countries in the currency union–Germany, France and Italy–all contracted. An index reading above 50 typically represents growth.

Ironically, the moves on the currency market overshadowed the fact that Russia’s PMI reading rose to its highest since July, something that HSBC Russia economist Alexander Morozov said reflected the fact that domestic producers are doing well out of substituting their goods for imports that are either banned due to sanctions or just becoming too expensive, thanks to the ruble’s decline.

However, Morozov warned that manufacturers’ input prices, which also feature in the monthly surveys, rose at their highest rate since 1998, suggesting that inflation will breach 10% before long as companies pass on their higher costs to consumers.

The news agency Interfax quoted central bank deputy chairman Ksenia Yudaeva Monday as saying that inflation would top 9% this year and will probably exceed 10% early next year. The central bank had wanted to keep inflation to no more than 6.5% this year, and many expect it to raise interest rates further when it meets Dec. 11.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME society

Muhammad Becomes Britain’s Most Popular Name for a Baby Boy

The website BabyCentre also reveals that parents have been heavily influenced by celebrity name choices

The website BabyCentre UK has revealed that, rising 27 places from last year, the name Muhammad has topped the list of the top 100 boys’ names of 2014 (when alternate spellings such as Mohammed are included).

It is closely followed by Oliver and Jack, but royal names have fallen in popularity, with George actually declining in popularity since the birth of Prince George to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last year.

Sarah Redshaw, managing editor of BabyCentre, told The Times: “Kate and William have a lot of attention and parents don’t want to always be asked if they named their baby after Prince George.”

Data shows a rising trend in Arabic names, with Omar, Ali, and Ibrahim appearing in the chart, and Nur jumping straight to number 29 in the girls’ top 100. But Biblical names such as Jacob, Noah and Gabriel for boys, and Abigail, Elizabeth and Eve for girls continue to endure in popularity.

The influence of popular culture on parents’ choices is also clear: Game of Thrones is likely responsible for Emilia entering the charts at 53, while Frozen‘s Elsa makes an appearance in the top 100. Breaking Bad‘s Skyler, Jesse and Walter have also soared up the charts since the series ended last September.


TIME Syria

U.S.-Led Coalition Carries Out 30 Air Strikes Against ISIS in Syria

Nour Fourat—Reuters Smoke rises after what activists said were four air strikes by forces loyal to Syria's president Bashar Al-Assad in Raqqa November 28, 2014.

Attack followed by Syrian air strikes killing at least 19

Coalition forces led by the U.S. on Saturday carried out 30 or more air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militants in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa, said the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The area under attack included a Syrian army base that ISIS fighters captured in July, Reuters reports.

At least 27 people were killed in a massacre in the province of Daraa on Monday, said the Observatory. Fighting also continues in the town of Kobani, which Kurdish fighters have been defending from an ISIS onslaught for over two months.

The U.S.-led coalition has bombed ISIS targets since September.

TIME faith

Pope Francis Urges Muslim Leaders to Condemn Violence

Gregorio Borgia—AP Pope Francis, center, talks during a press conference aboard the flight toward Rome on Nov. 30, 2014

Remarks came during only the fourth trip by a sitting Pontiff to Turkey

Pope Francis has called on Muslim leaders to condemn violence in order to eliminate the unfortunate stereotype linking Islam with terrorism.

The Pontiff made his statement on a flight from Turkey, where he’s spent three days discussing divisions between faiths, reports the BBC.

He rejected those who say that “all Muslims are terrorists … [just] as we cannot say that all Christians are fundamentalists.”

During a visit at the Blue Mosque, the Pope stopped for two minutes turned towards Mecca, folded his hands and listened as the Grand Mufti of Istanbul gave a Muslim prayer.

Together with Patriarch Bartholomew I, the 77-year-old also released a joint statement appealing for an end to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, and for peace in Ukraine.

TIME ebola

U.N. Mission Warns That Ebola Still Poses ‘Huge’ Global Threat

Liberia Battles Spreading Ebola Epidemic
John Moore—Getty Images A mother and child stand atop their mattresses in a classroom now used as Ebola isolation ward on Aug. 15, 2014, in Monrovia, Liberia

The U.N. mission is urging that the longer the disease is allowed to storm West Africa, the more likely it is that the virus will reappear elsewhere in the world

The head of the U.N. Ebola mission in West Africa has said there is a “huge risk” of the Ebola outbreak expanding beyond the hard-hit region.

Anthony Banbury told BBC News that “there is a huge risk to the world that Ebola will spread” if it continues to ravage Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, where it has killed almost 7,000 people.

“That is why it is so important to get down to zero cases as quickly as possible,” Banbury told BBC News.

The U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response said last week that it did not expect to meet the ambitious goals it had set for Dec. 1 in its effort to halt the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Read more at BBC News

TIME Taiwan

Cross-Strait Ties Just Got More Complicated

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou walks out of a voting booth at a voting station during local elections in Taipei
Frank Sun—Reuters Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou walks out of a voting booth at a polling station in Taipei during local elections on Nov. 29, 2014

Taiwan politicians must fathom how to engage with China without vexing voters who are increasingly distrustful of Beijing

Ma Ying-jeou is having a bad week. Taiwan’s President went into this weekend’s local elections battered, his approval ratings low. Then on Saturday his party, the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), got thoroughly trounced, losing ground across the island, including key mayoral posts in Taichung and Taipei. The results prompted Prime Minister Jiang Yi-huah to resign and 80 cabinet colleagues to also offer to step down — an act of contrition that may or may not be enough to staunch growing dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of food-safety scandals, the economy, and the island’s relations with China. Ma may yet resign his chairmanship of the KMT.

China and Taiwan have been at odds since Mao Zedong’s communists prevailed and the nationalists beat a retreat across the strait. Ma came to power in 2008 promising to put existential questions about Taiwan’s relationship with China on hold, focusing instead on building economic ties with the Chinese mainland. He was re-elected in 2012 in a hard-fought battle with the opposition Democratic Progress Party (DPP), which is generally more skeptical of Beijing. It was a narrow victory — Ma beat challenger Tsai Ing-wen by about 6% of the vote — and in the years since, his government lost more ground. This spring, demonstrators occupied the legislature under the banner of the Sunflower Movement to protest the government’s handling of a proposed trade pact with China, only heightening the sense of a political reckoning to come.

This weekend, voters delivered it. While it might be tempting, especially from a distance, to read the results as a sort of referendum on cross-strait ties, to do so is to misunderstand the island’s electoral landscape. What the results show, Taiwan watchers say, is that the voting public is deeply unhappy with the status quo under the KMT, including, but not limited to, their China policy. They are worried about quality of life issues, clean government, and want their leaders to focus on competing globally, not just trading with China. “These are local elections, fought on local issues, by local personalities, so we have to be careful not to overinterpret the results” says Alan D. Romberg, distinguished fellow and the director of the East Asia program at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C. “Cross-strait relations were not at the center this time, but next time, in [the 2016 general elections], they will be.”

Indeed, the KMT losses are particularly striking considering that the 2016 presidential election is fast approaching. The prospect of a KMT defeat in that contest — that is to say, a win by the opposition DPP — could potentially alter the calculus of cross-strait ties. Unlike the KMT, which accepts some iteration of Beijing’s “one-China policy,” the DPP is more reticent. The DPP maintains that Taiwan is already a sovereign nation and should engage with China on those terms. The DPP does not see reunification in the future, a no-no for Beijing. As such, the prospect of a DPP government in 2016 is sure to worry the Communist Party’s top cadres. Says Shelley Rigger, a Taiwan specialist at Davidson College in North Carolina: “Beijing is definitely not loving this.”

Especially right now. Since late September, pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong have occupied for long stints three neighborhoods in the former British colony, demanding a more representative voting system. The movement is, like the Sunflower Movement before it, student-led and fueled by a deep distrust of the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. Though Hong Kong is not — as any Taiwan person would tell you — the same as Taiwan, Beijing cannot be pleased with the parallel. Beijing sees Taiwan as a renegade province and compares Hong Kong to an impertinent child. At a time when President Xi Jinping is speaking evocatively of an “Asia-Pacific dream” and forging ties abroad, it is awkward to have trouble at (what he considers) home.

Going forward, Taiwan politicians must find ways to engage with China without alienating a public that is increasingly wary of Beijing’s embrace. “The question for China is: How do we deal with a Taiwan that does not make anything easy?” Rigger says. After the week he has had, President Ma may be wondering the same thing.

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Protests Reach Violent High as Students Clash With Police Overnight

After two months of stalemate, the students attempt to block access to the government headquarters leading to intense clashes

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests descended into the worst violence seen so far early Monday, as demonstrators ended more than two months of largely peaceful civil disobedience with a dramatic escalation in tactics.

Thousands of protesters clashed with police overnight at the demonstration’s main encampment near government headquarters in well-heeled Admiralty district, at one point storming into a main thoroughfare and bringing evening traffic to a sudden stop. Police in riot gear fought back with a liberal use of batons and pepper spray, hurling protesters to the ground to make arrests. At least 40 people were hospitalized in the bedlam.

The night marked a major reversal in direction for what student leaders have long maintained was a movement principled in nonviolence. Student groups, who bristle at the Chinese government’s insistence on vetting candidates for Hong Kong’s top political leader, have urged protesters to show their readiness for the right to free elections by exercising restraint.

But months of waiting in the streets for an increasingly unlikely turnaround from either Beijing or the Hong Kong government, as well as seething anger at perceived police brutality, appear to have sharpened protesters’ ambitions.

“I think we’ve had enough,” said Doug Lee, 20, a musician, on Monday morning. “I’m ready to fight, ready to protect our people, ready for revolution.”

Speaking over a megaphone on Sunday night, two of the student leaders, Nathan Law and Oscar Lai, called for assembled protesters to surround the government offices and prevent employees from getting to work in the morning. Yet leaders gave little direction as to what should happen in the hours between their speeches and the start of the new working week.

“There is no plan,” said one protester, first-named Danny, as he stood at one entry to the headquarters. The 20-year-old insisted, though, that he at least knew that protesters would not charge at police and would remain peaceful.

Yet just minutes later, a group of protesters in helmets, goggles and face masks counted down and charged at police lines near Tamar Park, a swath of green hemmed by skyscrapers and lights wishing “Seasons greetings” to this freewheeling metropolis of 7 million. A second group of demonstrators charged at police blocking access to nearby Lung Wo Road, and protesters surged while cheering and clapping into the key thoroughfare.

Umbrellas were passed hand to hand toward the front line as protesters, reeling from pepper spray and bloodied by batons, were hurried out of the crowd and passed to medics. Protesters linked hands to surround wounded demonstrators and form the most makeshift of hospitals on the grass. One volunteer medic, Shane Lee, 21, said that he had treated at least 30 people overnight, including four head wounds and an arm fracture.

As the confrontations intensified, with police forcing protesters out of Lung Wo Road overnight, government employees were told they did not have to report to work.

By morning, intermittent clashes between protesters and police continued, with protesters showing a visible anger not seen before at a camp where protesters spend most of their time tapping at smartphones, studying, and passing around cakes and noddle dishes. In some instances, protesters threw water bottles at cops and raised middle fingers amid raucous jeers.

Police also heckled protesters, tearing down their banners calling for real democracy, and it at times became unclear who was aggressing on whom. Police say they made 40 arrests overnight.

“Why would Hong Kong police do that?” said one man, surnamed Tam, a 30-year-old hairdresser who told TIME he had been hit several times with a baton.

Protesters in Admiralty district had over the past few weeks entered a period of reckoning after Hong Kong’s political leaders had shut down any possibility of future talks with student groups. Student leaders’ plans to take their demands to Beijing ended at Hong Kong’s airport, when the Chinese government revoked their permits to visit mainland China. Meanwhile, polls put public support for the street occupations on the decline.

Questions about the future of the movement became all the more potent when police acted on an injunction brought by transport companies frustrated by the traffic disruption and cleared a virulent satellite protest site across the iconic Victoria Harbor in Kowloon’s raffish Mong Kok district.

Joshua Wong, a student protest leader, defended the evening of tumult in a Facebook post, saying that “students [were] forced to take this step,” after all other options were exhausted and after weathering months of police violence. Seven cops were arrested last week for the alleged beating of a protester during an earlier attempt to occupy Lung Wo Road, and local journalist groups have filed complaints at police headquarters over the violent arrest of two reporters covering protests in Mong Kok. Protesters have on recent nights convened in the neighborhood to — they insist — “go shopping” or wait for a bus, bringing traffic to an almost comic standstill as police chaff at protesters “cross[ing] the roads” slowly.

“Students occupy peacefully, but are faced with police violence,” wrote Wong, who has accused police of assaulting him, including punching him and touching his groin, during his arrest in Mong Kok earlier this week.

Hong Kong Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok denied the police used excessive force. “Batons and bricks were found in the bags of the protesters,” he told reporters.

Lam Cheuk-ting, chief executive of the Democratic Party, said that student leaders had not discussed their plans to surround government headquarters with either the pro-democratic legislators or the leaders of Occupy Central, the group that originally called for pro-democracy sit-ins here but later ceded the face of the protests to two student groups.

“I understand why they don’t retreat because the government hasn’t responded to our demands, any of the demands,” he tells TIME. “But we all know that if the deadlock continues we will gradually lose support from the public.”

On Monday morning, as the tumult eased into a tense calm, protesters were determined to keep fighting, yet uncertain where it would get them.

Meanwhile, a group of British MPs have been refused access to Hong Kong where they intended to investigate the relationship the U.K. has with its former colony. British nationals do not normally need visas for Hong Kong, which has enjoyed significant autonomy from Beijing under a principle of “one country, two systems” since it was handed back to China in 1997.

Richard Ottaway, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, accused Beijing authorities of acting in an “overtly confrontational manner.” Such accusations are becoming all too common as this battle for Hong Kong’s future builds to an indecorous crescendo.

— With reporting by Per Liljas, Helen Regan, Rishi Iyengar and David Stout / Hong Kong

TIME Military

The Drumsticks of War

A member of Afghan security forces arrives at the site of a Taliban attack on a foreign aid workers' guest house in the Afghan capital of Kabul
Omar Sobhani / Reuters A member of Afghanistan's security forces arrives at the site of a Taliban attack on a foreign-aid workers' guest house in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Saturday. Three South Africans perished in the attack.

While Americans enjoyed the holiday weekend, their allies in Afghanistan and Iraq grew increasingly weakened

The average American couldn’t be blamed for missing, over the long Thanksgiving weekend, the growing evidence that the deaths of the 6,841 U.S. troops in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq may have been in vain. The nation is weary of war, and holiday news media coverage—fallout in Ferguson, Mo., Black Friday gluttony and football—reflected America’s growing disinterest.

But for anyone paying attention, the news over the weekend was decidedly bleak.

Suicide attacks have been averaging one a day in the Afghan capital of Kabul over the past two weeks. On Saturday, the Taliban attacked a guesthouse, killing a South African father and his two teenage children. After detailing the carnage Sunday, Kabul’s police chief quit in despair. The same day, President Ashraf Ghani, unable to form a new government, fired most of the ministers he inherited. The Taliban overran what used to be the biggest British army base in southern Afghanistan, a month after the Brits had turned it over to Afghan security forces. (Later, Afghan forces took it back.)

About 1,400 miles away, in Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Sunday that his government has been paying the salaries of at least 50,000 “ghost soldiers.” It’s not like Iraq can afford to pay non-existent troops: al-Abadi also said he has had to toss out his proposed 2015 budget because it was based on selling Iraqi oil at $70 a barrel (it fell to $64 last week, he noted—a cut of nearly 10%). And an Iraqi military helicopter, trying to hit targets belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, killed an innocent pair of brothers Saturday in the town of Yathrib. A second airstrike killed 15 people who were headed to the brothers’ funerals.

Such problems are common in war. They’re just not common after more than a decade of U.S. sacrifice, and repeated pledges by those in charge that such sacrifices will not have been made in vain.

Unfortunately, there’s now no one in charge at the Pentagon. The White House had the temerity to oust Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last Monday—while praising him effusively—without having a candidate to take his place. In the military, that’s called dereliction of duty. During wartime—for those in uniform—it’s punishable by death. For everybody else, it’s just politics.

TIME Italy

Italy Investigating 11 Deaths Possibly Linked to Flu Vaccine

The Italian Pharmaceutical Agency has yet to confirm a link

Italy is investigating the deaths of several people who took an influenza vaccine as the total death toll climbed to 11.

An additional eight fatalities possibly related to Novartis AG’s Fluad vaccine have been identified, Bloomberg reports. As a precaution, two batches of the drug were suspended after three people died within 48 hours of getting the shot.

“At the moment it’s not possible to confirm that there is a direct link between taking the vaccine and the reported deaths,” the Italian Pharmaceutical Agency said in a statement. “More complete information is necessary and a thorough analysis of the cases must be conducted.”

Novartis said Fluad, which was approved in 1997, has a “robust” history of safe usage and that there was “no causal relationship” found between the deaths and the vaccine.


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