TIME politics

The History Behind the Other ‘United Nations’

united nations - Jan. 19, 1942
From the Jan. 19, 1942, issue of TIME TIME

In 1942, the group known as the United Nations was convened to accomplish one goal: defeat the Axis powers

The United Nations was created in 1942 — but not the United Nations as we know it, the group whose representatives are this week converging in New York City for the 69th General Assembly.

When the phrase first “slipped into the world’s vocabulary,” as TIME wrote, the world was in the midst of war, and the concept of wide-scale international collaboration was fraught. World War II had already exposed the failure of the League of Nations, the international organization set up after the previous world war. Still, in January of 1942, 26 nations, including the U.S., the U.K., Russia and China, signed a pact uniting them in one goal: to defeat the Axis powers. The name, which had been proposed by the Roosevelt administration, became the official title for the Allied powers.

“For the people of the Axis countries that fact could not be other than sobering: 26 nations—count them—26, all determined that Hitler and his tyranny shall be destroyed,” TIME wrote at the time.

Even then there was skepticism that the United Nations could be effective. Some called for a cooperative body to oversee the war effort, while others continued to call for a union of peoples and not just an intergovernmental pact.

But the United Nations prevailed, and when, after the war, world leaders descended on San Francisco for the conference to hash out the details of an intergovernmental organization to jointly confront the world’s problems, they called it the United Nations. The first session of the United Nations General Assembly opened in 1946.

Take a look at TIME’s coverage of the signing of the declaration of the original United Nations in 1942:

The significance of the pact was slower being digested. In Washington, enthusiasts compared it to the Articles of Confederation that had held the 13 States together until the Constitutional Convention. Advocates of Union Now thought it did not go far enough, wanted a union of peoples, rather than of governments. Josephus Daniels recalled his last talk with Woodrow Wilson, when Wilson had said: “The things we have fought for are sure to prevail . . . [and] may come in a better way than we proposed.” Advocates of a revived, strengthened League of Nations hoped the United Nations would prove the better way.

Taken at its face value, the Declaration was impressive. If the signing nations could actually employ their “full resources,” their power would be staggering. Their combined populations came to almost 1,500,000,000 of the world’s 2,145,000,000. They held twice as much of the world’s steel capacity as the Axis, most of its wheat, most of the materials needed for making war or prospering in peace.

Today’s United Nations, by those standards, is even more impressive: instead of 26 member nations, there are 193.

Read the 1942 story about the original United Nations here, in TIME’s archives: The United Nations

TIME astronomy

Strong Solar Flare Headed Toward Earth

Late Summer Flare captured by Solar Dynamics Observatory
A flare erupting on the left side of the sun on August 24, 2014. Solar Dynamics Observatory/ESA/NASA

Traveling at 2.5 million miles per hour

A strong solar flare is barreling toward Earth at 2.5 million miles per hour, but scientists say its worst effects will likely bypass the planet when it expectedly arrives by the weekend.

Solar flares from the sun occur with frequency and, when unleashed toward Earth, can cause so-called solar storms. This particular one is categorized as a low-level X-class flare, the most severe of the three classes.

A storm of this size hasn’t headed toward Earth in several years, Tom Berger, the director of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo., told the Associated Press. But, he added, “we’re not scared of this one.”

Earth’s atmosphere largely protects people on the ground from the radiation effects of a solar flare, but such blasts do have the potential to knock out power systems and disrupt satellite communications. Berger told the AP that the one heading toward Earth could slightly disturb some satellite and radio communications.

Storms categorized as “Extreme” have the potential to cause massive damage to electrical and communication systems and even pose a health hazard to passengers and crew in high-flying planes.

Here’s video footage from NASA of the solar flare in the middle of the sun on Wednesday:

TIME celebrities

Barbra Streisand Is Going on The Tonight Show

Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - May 26, 2014
Barbra Streisand and James Brolin are seen on May 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. GONZALO/Bauer—Griffn/GC Images

Her appearance with Jimmy Fallon on Monday will be her first guest appearance in more than 50 years

Barbra Streisand will join Jimmy Fallon as a guest on The Tonight Show on Monday night.

Fallon announced his upcoming guest on Wednesday; NBC said it will be the film and music icon’s first guest appearance on a late-night talk show in more than 50 years (though she made a quick cameo on The Late Show With David Letterman in 1994, as The Hollywood Reporter noted).

Streisand’s appearance will coincide with the release of her new duets album “Partners” on Sept. 16. The album will feature 12 new duets with the likes of Billy Joel, John Mayer and Michael Bublé. It also promises a “one-of-a-kind virtual duet” with the late Elvis Presley, according to NBC.

TIME South Africa

Judge in Oscar Pistorius Trial Rules Out Murder

Judge may still rule Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide

The judge in the trial of Oscar Pistorius ruled on Thursday that the South African runner was not guilty of murder but delayed handing down a formal verdict, which may still hold him guilty of culpable homicide, likely until Friday.

The verdict will mark the beginning of the end of a globally publicized, six-month-long trial of the feted athlete, who in 2012 became the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics. Pistorius, 27, was charged with murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Feb. 14, 2013, after shooting her four times through a bathroom door at his home in Pretoria. He claimed to mistake Steenkamp for a possible intruder, the Associated Press reports, but chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued that Pistorius intended to injure her after the two had quarreled.

In the first day of her verdict reading, Judge Thokozile Masipa said prosecutors did not show beyond a reasonable doubt that Pistorius was guilty of premeditated murder. The judge admitted she had doubts about several witness accounts, including those who heard a scream or cry thought to be a woman’s. “None of the witnesses had ever heard the accused cry or scream, let alone when he was anxious,” Masipa said, alluding to a chance it could have been Pistorius’ voice.

But, without issuing a formal verdict, she said “culpable homicide is a competent verdict,” according to the AP. “I am of the view that the accused acted too hastily and with excessive force.”

Culpable homicide with a firearm normally carries a five-year prison sentence in South Africa, the AP adds, though the number of years can vary. And the final verdict may not mean the end of the saga, as Pistorius and the prosecution both retain the right to appeal the decision.

Pistorius, who frequently caused the court to adjourn throughout the trial in order to compose himself and who Masipa described as a “very poor witness” on Thursday, the AP reports, listened while sitting on a bench, at times quietly weeping. He had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old but began competing in Paralympic events using prosthetic limbs, earning himself the moniker “blade runner.” He proved successful enough to compete in able-bodied events including the 2012 London Olympics, and became an icon for athletes with disabilities.

Steenkamp was a burgeoning star herself who had appeared on the cover of FHM magazine and was slated to take part in an upcoming reality TV travel show.

[AP]

TIME remembrance

WATCH LIVE: NYC Ceremony on 13th Anniversary of 9/11

The ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza begins at 8:40 a.m.

Hundreds of people gathered at the site of the World Trade Center for a ceremony to remember the 2,983 people killed in the 2001 and 1993 attacks. Family members of the victims have been invited to read names.

A citywide moment of silence will be held at 8:46 a.m., the time the first hijacked plane flew into the North Tower, and at five additional times throughout the morning, marking the time of impact of three other planes and the time the two towers fell.

TIME Environment

Ozone Layer Showing Signs of Recovery, Study Finds

Ozone Rebounds
This undated image provided by NASA shows the ozone layer over the years, Sept. 17, 1979, top left, Oct. 7, 1989, top right, Oct. 9, 2006, lower left, and Oct. 1, 2010, lower right. NASA/AP

Finally, some good news about the environment

The depleted protective ozone layer that has left a gaping hole over Antarctica is showing signs of recovering, a UN panel of scientists said Wednesday.

The report found early indications of an increase in total ozone levels, which stabilized around 2000 after two decades of decline. The hole over Antarctica that appears every year, which grew to about 30 million square km in 2006, has also stopped expanding, according to the report.

Scientists realized in the 1970s that chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans known as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were wearing down the ozone layer, which helps the Earth repel potentially harmful radiation from the sun. But an international movement to ban or replace CFCs, buttressed by the 1987 Montreal Protocol, has helped reduce the amount of CFC in the atmosphere.

“It’s a victory for diplomacy and for science and for the fact that we were able to work together,” chemist Mario Molina, one of the coauthors of a 1974 study predicting ozone depletion, told the Associated Press.

While past studies have found slowing ozone depletion, the UN report Wednesday is the first to show indications of an increase in total ozone, Geir Braathen, a senior scientific officer with the World Meteorological Organization, which co-produced the report, told Reuters.

TIME Civil Rights

Justice Department Opens Civil Rights Probe Into Ferguson Police

US Attorney General Eric Holder delivers remarks on the Justice Department’s efforts in Ferguson, Missouri.
US Attorney General Eric Holder responds to a question from the news media on the Justice Department’s efforts in Ferguson, Missouri during a press conference at the Justice Department in Washington, DC, on Sept. 4, 2014. Shawn Thew—EPA

"Our investigation will assess the police department’s use of force, including deadly force. It will analyze stops, searches, and arrests."

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that the Justice Department would open a civil rights investigation into the Ferguson Police Department in the wake of the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager last month.

The Aug. 9 encounter prompted riots and days of protests in the St. Louis suburb, and the Department of Justice is already separately investigating whether any civil rights laws were violated during the shooting of the teenager, Michael Brown.

Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference on Thursday that city leaders would be cooperating with the investigation into whether there was a pattern or practice of discrimination in the force. He also said the so-called “pattern or practice” investigation could be expanded to include police departments in neighboring jurisdictions.

“In Ferguson, our investigation will assess the police department’s use of force, including deadly force. It will analyze stops, searches, and arrests. And it will examine the treatment of individuals detained at Ferguson’s city jail, in addition to other potentially discriminatory policing techniques and tactics that are brought to light,” Holder said.

The Department was given the legal authority to open “pattern or practice” investigations in 1994 and in the past five years it has opened 20 such investigations across the country.

TIME conflict

Obama and British Leader Say They Won’t Be ‘Cowed by Barbaric Killers’

"If terrorists think we will weaken in the face of their threats they could not be more wrong"

The United States and Britain will “not be cowed” by Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria who have killed two American journalists, the leaders of both nations said Thursday.

Ahead of a NATO summit in Wales that began Thursday, President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron published a joint article in the Times of London saying they will “confront” the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), and calling for international action to address security threats around the world.

“If terrorists think we will weaken in the face of their threats they could not be more wrong,” they wrote. “Countries like Britain and America will not be cowed by barbaric killers. We will be more forthright in the defence of our values, not least because a world of greater freedom is a fundamental part of how we keep our own people safe.”

The NATO summit, which is formally scheduled to address the drawdown in Afghanistan and the conflict in Ukraine, comes days after the ISIS released a video depicting its beheading of a second American journalist.

Obama and Cameron also called for NATO to increase pressure on Russia, which Western officials say is meddling in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists.

“With Russia trying to force a sovereign state to abandon its right to democracy and determining the course of its future at the barrel of a gun, we should support Ukraine’s right to determine its own democratic future and continue our efforts to enhance Ukrainian capabilities,” they wrote.

TIME Environment

Judge Places Most Blame on BP for 2010 Oil Spill

Deepwater Horizon site
Deepwater Horizon site Carrie Vonderhaar—Ocean Futures Society/Getty Images

British energy giant's conduct called "reckless"

A New Orleans judge ruled on Thursday that British energy giant BP’s gross negligence led to the largest offshore oil spill in American history.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said BP was mostly to blame for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster, which killed 11 people and spewed oil into the water for 87 days.

Barbier attributed 67% of the fault to BP, 30% to Transocean, which owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, and 3% to Halliburton, the cement contractor.

“BP’s conduct was reckless,” Barbier wrote in the decision, according to Bloomberg. “Transocean’s conduct was negligent. Halliburton’s conduct was negligent.”

Barbier oversaw a trial last year to distribute fault for the spill. BP could face up to $18 billion in fines, Bloomberg reports, though appeals will likely delay if and when any penalties are settled. The company pleaded guilty in 2012 to 14 federal counts and agreed to pay $4 billion to end the criminal case.

BP said in a statement it would appeal the decision. Its shares were down nearly 6% at 12:12 p.m. ET on Thursday.

TIME Archaeology

Researchers Find Dinosaur Species That Weighed More Than a Jumbo Jet

Dreadnoughtus
This undated artist rendering provided by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History shows the Dreadnoughtus. Mark A. Klingler—Associated Press

Bones found in Argentina's Patagonia region

A team of researchers said Thursday that they have found a species of dinosaur that was 85 feet long and weighed as much as 12 elephants, making it one of the largest animals known to have walked the Earth.

The team unearthed the fossilized skeleton of the giant herbivore in Argentina’s Patagonia region and say that some 70 percent of the skeleton is represented. They published their findings in Scientific Reports on Thursday, calling it the most complete skeleton of a titanosaur — a group of giant long-necked dinosaurs that existed roughly 75 million years ago — ever found.

Despite the dinosaur’s enormous size, which is nearly as large as the estimated sizes of other, less-complete fossilized titanosaurs, the researchers say this one was likely still growing when it died.

“I look at this dinosaur every day now and I still can’t believe it exists,” researcher Kenneth Lacovara, of Drexel University in Philadelphia, told the Wall Street Journal. The fossils are on loan to the U.S. but are slated to be returned to Argentina next year.

The dinosaur, formally called the Dreadnoughtus schrani, is believed to have weighed 65 tons, well above the weight of a Boeing 737-900 and nearly 10 times the weight of a T. rex, the Journal notes. Its neck was 37 feet long and its tail extended another 29 feet.

“We are seeing something that is pushing the envelope of how big you can get on this planet,” Lacovara told the Journal.

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