TIME People

Mario Cuomo, Former New York Governor and Liberal Icon, Dies at 82

Cuomo died just hours after his son was inaugurated to a second term as governor

Mario Cuomo, the former New York governor whose fiery, eloquent advocacy of liberal policies made him a key figurehead in the Democratic Party for years, died Thursday. He was 82, and his death was confirmed by the office of his son, current New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo died just hours after his son was inaugurated to a second term as governor. Andrew Cuomo said during his inauguration Thursday that his father was too ill to attend. Cuomo’s family said he died “from natural causes due to heart failure this evening at home with his loving family at his side.”

President Barack Obama paid tribute to “a determined champion of progressive values, and an unflinching voice for tolerance, inclusiveness, fairness, dignity, and opportunity.” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the President also phoned Andrew Cuomo to personally extend his condolences.

“An Italian Catholic kid from Queens, born to immigrant parents, Mario paired his faith in God and faith in America to live a life of public service—and we are all better for it,” Obama said in a statement. “His own story taught him that as Americans, we are bound together as one people, and our country’s success rests on the success of all of us, not just a fortunate few.”

Mario Cuomo served as governor from 1983 to 1994, during which he was twice considered a clear frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination. But both times, in 1988 and 1992, he declined to run.

His keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic convention is remembered as a forceful defense of liberalism—and a searing attack on then-President Ronald Reagan. “Mr. President, you ought to know that this nation is more ‘a tale of two cities’ than it is just a ‘shining city on a hill,'” Cuomo said then.

Cuomo often found his liberal policy ambitions in New York thwarted by a harsh economic climate, but his personification of the Democratic Party’s liberal wing at a time when conservatism was ascendant made him a political player far beyond the state’s borders. The 1984 convention speech was a high-water mark in his political career, and he very publicly flirted with White House runs in the years ahead. In a dramatic moment in December of 1991, Cuomo kept an airplane waiting on the tarmac while he mulled whether to fly to New Hampshire to hand in his application to be on the primary ballot on the day it was due. A budget clash with Republicans in the state legislature kept him from leaving, and he announced that he wouldn’t run.

Had he decided to run in 1992 it’s possible Bill Clinton would have never become president.

“We have lost a true progressive giant with Governor Mario Cuomo’s passing today,” former New York Gov. David Paterson wrote on Twitter. Former New York Gov. George Pataki called Cuomo “a proud son of immigrants, possessed of a soaring intellect [and] a great New Yorker.”

With reporting by Zeke Miller / Washington

Read next: Vice President Biden, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio Honor Life of Fallen Officer

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Food & Drink

The Dream Continues for Stephen Colbert’s Ice Cream

The show must end but AmeriCone Dream is here to stay

Let’s make one thing clear right off the bat: I’m a Stephen Colbert junkie. I’ve never missed an episode of The Colbert Report. And I’m pissed he’s ending the show. But at least we get to hold onto one thing when the curtain closes Thursday: Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream.

Ben & Jerry’s tells TIME that Colbert’s ice cream flavor will stay in circulation after its namesake drops character and heads to the Late Show. “The flavor is not going anywhere,” spokesman Sean Greenwood said.

This is important. When the flavor debuted in 2007, it brought together two great passions of mine—ice cream and Stephen Colbert—into one delicious pint of vanilla ice cream, fudge covered waffle cone pieces and caramel swirl. For ice cream aficionados, it also marked a great improvement from Häagen-Dazs’ Caramel Cone—a richer, heavier taste that only comes from the big guys from Vermont.

And the rollout was pure Stephen, bombastic, arrogant and hilarious in the way only he can be. “Now you can join me internally, as well as externally,” he declared. Noting the liberal affinities of the Ben & Jerry’s guys, Colbert said that “naming an ice cream after me shows they’re finally beginning to bring some balance back to the freezer case.” And when co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield told him that country singer Willie Nelson also just got a flavor, Colbert was incredulous: “Willie Nelson has a flavor? What’s in it, shredded tax forms and hash?”

It’s also a much better flavor than Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night Snack—something the two faux-feuded about for months.

AmeriCone Dream also sold quite well, too, raising more than $1 million for charity in the process. “It has been featured in an elite category—one of only three flavors that has been featured in Scoop Shops… quarts, pints, and mini cups,” Greenwood said. “It has ascended breaking the crème-de-glace ceiling of top 10 flavors at Ben & Jerry’s.”

Look, a lot of us are worried about this whole Colbert-dropping-his-character thing. I can’t say for sure whether I’ll be as loyal to the Late Show Stephen Colbert as I was to the faux conservative pundit that, in my mind, will always be the real Stephen Colbert.

But at 11:30 p.m., bummed out by the lack of anything good on TV, at least I’ll still be able to drown my sorrows in a pint of AmeriCone Dream, and hold on to the sweet, sweet taste of liberty.

-Additional reporting by Justin Worland

TIME intelligence

U.S. Sees North Korea as Culprit in Sony Hack

Fallout prompted studio to pull The Interview

American officials have determined the government of North Korea is connected to the hack that left Sony Entertainment Pictures reeling and eventually prompted it to pull a movie critical of the country’s leader, a U.S. official confirmed Wednesday.

Much remains unclear about the nature of North Korea’s involvement. The country, while lauding the hack against Sony, has denied being behind it. There were conflicting reports Wednesday evening, and officials are expected to unveil their findings Thursday. But the U.S. official confirmed to TIME that intelligence officials have indeed determined North Korea was behind the hack, one of the worst cyberattacks ever against an American company.

The New York Times, citing senior Obama Administration officials, reported that intelligence officials have determined North Korea was “centrally involved.” NBC News, also citing unnamed U.S. officials, reported that the Americans believe the hacking came from outside North Korea itself, but that the hackers were acting on orders from Pyongyang.

MORE: The 7 most outrageous things we learned from the Sony hack

The hack exposed reams of company data, including employees’ emails and salaries. A group calling itself the Guardians of Peace claimed credit. And analysts have speculated North Korea was behind an attack that came before the scheduled release of The Interview, a Sony movie that depicts American journalists enlisted by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (North Korean officials have criticized the movie.) Threats of 9/11-style attacks against theaters that show the movie led many theaters to say this week that they wouldn’t screen it, which prompted Sony to cancel the scheduled Christmas Day release altogether.

“We are deeply saddened by this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees and the American public,” Sony said in a statement. “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, President Barack Obama called the hack against Sony “very serious,” but suggested authorities have yet to find any credibility in the threat of attacks against theaters.

“For now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies,” Obama said.

TIME Television

The Simpsons Make It to 25 Years

Homer and Marge
Homer and Marge Simpson Fox

But don't have a cow, man

It was 25 years ago Wednesday that America first met The Simpsons for real. Sure, some folks had seen a rough version of the family during sketches on The Tracey Ullman Show. But Dec. 17, 1989, marked the first actual episode, a dedicated time of the week for Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie to enter Americans’ living rooms.

It’s been quite a ride since then, with the show becoming such a cultural touchstone that TIME’s James Poniewozik called it “The Best TV Show Ever” in 1999. In the decade between the premier and that declaration, it transformed from a show about trouble-making Bart into what was really a show about Homer, America’s lovable oaf of a dad—and, of course, about the entire universe of characters creator Matt Groening brought to Springfield.

MORE: Hello Simpsons World, goodbye rest of your life

Twenty-five years and more than 550 episodes later, true fans know The Simpsons has long since passed it’s prime (it went downhill after season nine). But with its 26th season underway, the 25th anniversary is a fitting time to take stock of its unprecedented staying power.

Marking the show’s 100th episode in 1994, TIME’s Richard Corliss noted some of the things that make the show special, and they’re just as fitting today. Here’s just one of them:

For a family of underachievers, the Simpsons have achieved quite a bit. In the show, Homer has been a monorail conductor and a baseball mascot; he won a Grammy (for Outstanding Soul, Spoken Word or Barbershop Album) and survived eating a deadly blowfish. Marge sang Blanche Dubois in the musical O Streetcar! Lisa created her own talking doll, mastered the saxophone and the Talmud, was a Junior Miss Springfield, uncovered political corruption and saved the Republic. Bart adopted an elephant, fell down a well and was rescued by String, and was tried for murdering Principal Skinner. Maggie had her first word voiced for her by Elizabeth Taylor.

Read the rest here, in the TIME Vault: Simpsons Forever!

TIME National Security

Feds Tracking 150 Americans Who Went to Syria Amid Terror Fears

Television cameras record FBI Director James Comey as he answers questions from reporters during a news conference at the FBI office in Boston, Mass., Nov. 18, 2014.
Television cameras record FBI Director James Comey as he answers questions from reporters during a news conference at the FBI office in Boston, Mass., Nov. 18, 2014. Brian Snyder—Reuters

Determined to prevent "a future 9/11"

American authorities are tracking about 150 U.S. citizens who have traveled to Syria in recent months amid fears they may have gone there to fight for militant groups, the head of the FBI said Tuesday.

“We have tracked coming up on close to 150 people who traveled from the United States to Syria, for all manner of motivations,” FBI Director James Comey told reporters in Boston, according to the New York Times. “A significant number of them to fight.”

Authorities are particularly concerned about Americans who may have gone to fight alongside militants of the group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), which a U.S.-led military coalition has been hammering with air strikes in both Iraq and Syria for months.

“We are determined not to allow future lines to be drawn from a terrorist diaspora out of Syria to a future 9/11,” Comey added.


TIME Seinfeld

Here’s a Video of All the Times Kramer Took Jerry Seinfeld’s Food

"You got any shredded coconut?"

We all know the routine because we’ve seen it so many times: Kramer flies through the door of Jerry’s apartment with his signature entrance, eyes Jerry’s kitchen, and makes his ask — when he even asks at all.

“You got any meat?”

“You got any pepper?”

“You got any coffee?”

“You got any of those mini Ritzes?”

And on and on it went for years on Seinfeld, one of actor Michael Richards’ most hilariously reusable interactions with Jerry Seinfeld. Check out the video above for a mashup of all the times Kramer came looking for more.


TIME 2014 Election

Republicans Win the Senate in Midterm Elections

Party retakes upper chamber amid disapproval of Obama

Republicans won the Senate for the first time in almost a decade Tuesday night, giving the party control over both chambers of Congress, and setting the stage for even more political confrontation with President Barack Obama during his final two years in office.

The GOP needed to pick up at least six seats to recapture the majority and as of late Tuesday night it had netted seven, with the possibility of winning one more when the Louisiana Senate race goes to a runoff next month. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell prevailed in one of the hardest-fought reelection fights of his career, and will almost certainly be selected by his colleagues as Majority Leader.

MORE: See all the election results

“The truth is tonight we begin another [fight], one that is far more important than mine, and that is to turn this country around,” McConnell told cheering supporters in Louisville after dispatching Alison Lundergam Grimes, Kentucky’s Secretary of State. Looking ahead to dealing with Obama as a lame duck, McConnell, who famously described the GOP’s top political priority as making him a one-term president, opened the door just a crack to compromise.

“We do have an obligation to work together on issues where we can agree,” he said. “Just because we have a two-party system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict.”

Current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who will now have to yield the top spot to McConnell in December, congratulated his colleague—and often nemesis.

“The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together,” Reid said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Senator McConnell to get things done for the middle class.”

MORE: The challenge for the new Republican majority

Republicans won competitive Senate races in Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas and Colorado, and held off a wealthy independent candidate who almost brought down longtime Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas. The GOP prevailed in a multi-candidate Senate race in South Dakota where Democrats had hoped an independent candidate would split the vote, and picked up a Montana Senate seat vacated by a retiring Democrat as expected.

In New Hampshire, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen held off Republican Scott Brown, a former Massachusetts senator who moved to the Granite State to challenge Shaheen. The Senate race in Louisiana headed to a Dec. 6 run-off after neither Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu nor Republican challenger Bill Cassidy mustered the majority support needed to win outright. But when Republicans knocked off the Democratic incumbent in North Carolina, the GOP had the seats it needed for the majority.

Republicans expanded on their majority in the House as expected.

“This is possibly the worst possible group of states for Democrats since Dwight Eisenhower,” President Barack Obama told a Connecticut radio station earlier in the day of the political map facing his party. “There are a lot of states that are being contested where they just tend to tilt Republican. And Democrats are competitive, but they tend to tilt that way.”

Obama, whose middling approval ratings are dragging down Democratic candidates across the country and who has exclusively campaigned for candidates in safe Democratic territory, mostly stayed out of sight Tuesday. He held meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and officials handling his Administration’s Ebola response, but he didn’t campaign. Exit polls indicated voters felt deep dissatisfaction with Obama and both parties in Congress, with two-thirds saying the country was headed on the wrong track.

The President famously declared the 2010 election a “shellacking” the day after Democrats lost the House to Republicans, and a White House official said late Tuesday that he had “invited bipartisan, bicameral congressional leaders to a meeting” for Friday. The Administration sought to downplay the idea that the race was about Obama. “Ultimately it’s the quality of these candidates that are going to be the driver in this election,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. Early Wednesday, Earnest said Obama would hold a news conference in the afternoon.

The Republican Party now faces the challenge of governing with full control of Congress, and will surely continue to face competing pressures from conservatives who want to challenge Obama by passing ideologically “pure” legislation and forcing him to veto it, and from moderates who see cutting big deals on immigration and other issues as the better path toward winning back the White House in 2016. The obstacles facing McConnell were again on display just moments after Republicans emerged victorious when Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a staunch Tea Party conservative and possible 2016 candidate, again won’t commit to backing McConnell for Majority Leader.

“That’ll be a decision for a conference to make,” Cruz said on CNN. Tonight “was a powerful repudiation of the Obama Administration,” Cruz said.

The only potential bright spot for Democrats was supposed to be gubernatorial races, where some Republicans elected during the GOP wave of 2010 looked poised to go down in defeat. But in Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott held off Democrat Charlie Crist, a party-switching former Republican governor of the state himself. And Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has been a top target for Democrats ever since he pushed through legislation that stripped public employees of collective bargaining rights, beat his Democratic challenger.

— With reporting from Jay Newton-Small, Alex Rogers and Maya Rhodan

Read next: The weirdest moments of Election Day 2014

TIME 2014 Election

Republicans See Senate Majority Within Reach Day Before Elections

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) waves while riding with his wife Elaine Chao (R) in the Hopkins Country Veterans Day Parade on November 2, 2014 in Madisonville, Ky.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) waves while riding with his wife Elaine Chao (R) in the Hopkins Country Veterans Day Parade on November 2, 2014 in Madisonville, Ky. Win McNamee—Getty Images

"I think the wind is at our back," says Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul

Republicans entered the last day of the midterm election campaign Monday with momentum breaking in their favor, as a series of polls indicated they were likely to win enough key races to recapture the Senate majority for the first time since 2006.

“I think the wind is at our back,” Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “I think people are ready for new leadership.”

A fresh batch of surveys from local polls had plenty of good news for the GOP. In Iowa’s hard-fought Senate race, a Des Moines Register survey released over the weekend showed Republican Joni Ernst opening up a seven-point lead over Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley. And NBC/Marist polls showed Republican candidates beating their Democratic opponents in Kentucky, Georgia and Louisiana.

After back-to-back election cycles, in which Republicans blew their shot at the Senate majority by losing winnable races behind flawed candidates, GOP operatives smelled victory. A top party official called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday to tell him he’ll soon be Majority Leader, the New York Times reports. Republicans are widely expected to expand their majority in the House.

Still, many races remain within the margin of error, and both parties are preparing for the possibility that control of the Senate might not be decided for weeks if the races in Georgia and Louisiana head to run-offs. Vice President Joe Biden said predictions of Democrats losing the Senate will prove wrong.

“I don’t agree with the oddsmakers,” Biden told CNN in an interview that aired Monday. “I predict we’re gonna… keep the Senate.”

And President Barack Obama made a last-ditch plea to Democratic voters, who typically vote in smaller numbers during midterm election cycles, not to sit on the sidelines.

“This is straightforward. I got a simple message: We got to vote,” he told more than 5,000 people in Philadelphia during a rally for Pennsylvania’s Democratic candidate for governor. “Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote.”

Read next: This Super PAC Was Behind 1 Out of Every 20 Senate Ads

TIME People

Terminally Ill Woman Who Planned Assisted Suicide Dies

"Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love"

Brittany Maynard, who moved to Oregon when diagnosed with terminal brain cancer so she could take advantage of the state’s physician-assisted suicide law, and whose eloquence in describing her decision to do so made her the new face of the right-to-die movement, died Saturday. She was 29 years old, and her death was confirmed by People on Sunday night.

Maynard said goodbye in a message to her friends and family on Facebook.

MORE: How Brittany Maynard could revive the “Death With Dignity” movement

“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love,” she wrote. “Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more.

“The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers,” she added. “I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type. … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

MORE: Why a young woman with brain cancer moved to Oregon to die

Doctors gave Maynard six months to live earlier this year after diagnosing her with a form of brain cancer. She publicly announced her intention to move to Oregon so she could undergo physician-assisted suicide under the state’s Death With Dignity Act. Right-to-die advocates credited her with bringing new energy to a stalled movement.

“For people to argue against this choice for sick people really seems evil to me,” she told People last month. “They try to mix it up with suicide and that’s really unfair, because there’s not a single part of me that wants to die. But I am dying.”

Read more at People

Read next: How to talk about the end of your life


Read next: Brittany Maynard Could Revive the Stalled ‘Death With Dignity’ Movement

TIME space

Branson Promises Answers on Spaceship Crash That Killed 1

"We're not going to push on blindly"

Billionaire Richard Branson promised Saturday that he would find out what caused one of his Virgin Galactic commercial spaceships to crash Friday, in an accident that killed one pilot and seriously injured another.

“We are determined to find out what went wrong,” Branson said at the California facility where the spacecraft was developed.

MORE: Enough with amateur-hour space flight

Branson, the bombastic mogul who also owns airlines, a wireless brand and many other businesses, has long been at the forefront of efforts to charge wealthy tourists a hefty sum for even a brief moment to enjoy the weightlessness and view of Earth from space. But the commercial space industry is facing tough questions after two accidents in one week: the crash of Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo on Friday and the explosion of the unmanned Orbital Sciences Antares rocket on Tuesday.

Branson didn’t provide any new details about the accident on Saturday. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating. Branson said safety will always come first.

“We’re not going to push on blindly,” he said. “We’re going to learn from what went wrong.

“We’ve always known that commercial space travel is an incredibly hard project,” he added. “We’ve been undertaking a comprehensive testing program for many years, and safety has always been our No. 1 priority.”

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