January 16, 2014 5:29 PM EST

The Explainer

What’s at Stake in South Sudan

Peace talks between representatives of President Salva Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar resumed in Ethiopia amid pressure to end strife that began on Dec. 15, after Kiir claimed that Machar’s loyalists were aiming to overthrow him. Fighting has left at least 1,000 dead and uprooted 350,000.


Fighting near oil pipelines that flow north to refineries in Sudan–for which oil-transit fees are a key source of revenue–led President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to visit South Sudan’s capital, Juba, to discuss how to help repair and protect its oil fields.


China has poured billions into Africa, including South Sudan. It consumes most of the young country’s oil exports. Against the backdrop of a 20% dip in production, a truce could help Beijing curb its losses and, more broadly, bolster its regional role.


It’s not yet all-out warfare between Kiir’s tribe, the Dinka, and Machar’s Nuer, but the refugee crisis led regional envoys and the U.S. to demand a negotiated cease-fire and that Kiir release 11 political detainees captured after the alleged coup plot.



YouGov and the Times of London asked nearly 14,000 people from 13 nations whom they looked up to most. A sampling:


U.S. (No. 1) Microsoft chairman


Russia (No. 3) President


India (No. 5) Cricket star

Thai Opposition Digs In for a Long Protest

The carnival atmosphere of folk bands and fist-pumping orators that characterized Operation Shutdown Bangkok on Jan. 13 turned tenser throughout the week: tens of thousands of antigovernment protesters swamped key intersections across the city, renewing their campaign to dislodge Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Though popular with the rural masses in Thailand’s northeast, she is despised by royalists and the middle classes of Bangkok and the southern provinces. They see her as a puppet of her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a military coup in 2006 and now lives in exile in Dubai.

The protesters are seeking reforms to permanently rid Thailand of Thaksin’s influence. The government has responded by dissolving parliament and calling elections for Feb. 2. But members of the opposition, mindful that Thaksin-backed parties have won every ballot since 2001 and would likely triumph again, have rejected this outright. Instead, they are seeking to replace Yingluck’s government with an unelected “people’s council.” They have consistently refused the government’s offer of talks to break the impasse.

“Yingluck is not good, Thaksin is not good. We need reform before elections,” one protester said.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban warned Yingluck to resign immediately or face arrest. He urged cohorts to “surround government buildings.”

As the protests continued, amid the country’s busiest time of the year for tourists, bemused foreigners unable to find taxis were forced to drag suitcases through the teeming crowds.

While the protests have been largely peaceful, eight people have been killed and almost 500 injured since the demonstrations first flared up in November. And with Yingluck’s government showing no signs of budging on the elections, the threat of more violence hangs over the city.


All the French Presidents’ Women

Reports of an affair between President François Hollande and actress Julie Gayet are just the latest example of political leaders testing the French media’s traditional reluctance to pry into the private lives of public figures.

Félix Faure

Rumor has it that President Faure (1895–99) died while engaging in sexual activities with his mistress Marguerite at the Élysée Palace in Paris.

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing

Once labeled an “incorrigible womanizer,” President Giscard d’Estaing (1974–1981) wrote a novel titled The Princess and the President in 2009 that many considered a veiled admission to an affair with Princess Diana, which he brushed off.

François Mitterrand

Two years before his death in 1996, the media reported that President Mitterrand (1981–1995)–“François the seducer” to his wife Danielle–had a daughter with his longtime mistress; Danielle invited them to his funeral.

Jacques Chirac

President Chirac (1995–2007) once said, “There have been women that I have loved a lot, as discreetly as possible.” His alleged conquests, like Italian actress Claudia Cardinale, were detailed in a book written by his chauffeur.

Nicolas Sarkozy

Hollande’s predecessor (2007–2012) publicly wooed Italian singer Carla Bruni before they married in 2008; later, both denied rumors hinting at infidelity.

NAMIBIA $350,000

Winning bid for a permit–Namibia issues a few each year–sold at a Texas auction for the right to lawfully hunt and kill an old, nonbreeding male black rhinoceros; all proceeds go toward the species’ conservation


‘I promised my family I would not cry, but I am emotional.’

PELÉ, Brazilian soccer legend, after FIFA presented him with an honorary Ballon d’Or for his achievement in the sport. Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal also teared up when he received the coveted award–his second.

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India, once among the toughest places to eradicate polio, marked three years since its last reported case (and will soon be declared polio-free)


Anna Chapman, the ex-spy returned to Russia in a 2010 swap with the U.S., launched a clothing and accessories line, to debut in February


Egyptians took part in a referendum–the first since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July–to give more power to the military


Dozens of arrests were reported after Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed an anti-gay law despite international condemnation

This appears in the January 27, 2014 issue of TIME.

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