TIME Ukraine

Putin Says He Has a Plan for Peace in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin Attends EU Summit In Minsk With Ukrainian President
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a news conference on Aug. 26, 2014, in Minsk, Belarus Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images

But Putin's comments came on the eve of a NATO summit where top Western officials accused Russia of meddling in the conflict in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a seven-point peace plan for eastern Ukraine on Wednesday that he jotted down in a notebook on a flight to a state visit to Mongolia.

While Putin’s proposed specifics and enforcement mechanism remain unclear, his first point called for Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to “end active offensive operations,” the New York Times reports. Putin spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko over the phone on Wednesday, and talks between Kiev and the separatists are planned for Friday.

But Putin’s ideas dismissed by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk as “deceptive.” They also came the night before a NATO summit in Wales, where Western leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, are gathering to discuss plans to end the conflict in Ukraine and to draw down NATO’s presence in Afghanistan. NATO says that more than 1,000 Russian soldiers were operating in eastern Ukraine.

“What counts is what is actually happening on the ground,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, according to the Associated Press. “And we are still witnessing, unfortunately, Russian involvement in destabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine.”

[NYT]

TIME Civil Rights

Here’s Why We Celebrate Labor Day

Labor Day Parade in New York, in 1995.
Labor Day Parade in New York, in 1995. Susan Watts—NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images

Here's what you need to know about one of America's most important holidays.

The first Monday of September means that white clothes are out, sales are in, summer holidays are over and classes begin. For many of us (but far from all of us), it’s a welcome day off of work or school, ahead of what is likely to be a busier month than the last.

But the Labor Day holiday has a storied past, one of violence and celebration, that’s embedded deep in the history of the American labor movement. And while it has spread around the world in different forms, Labor Day has distinctly American roots.

Here’s a quick primer on the meaning and history of the holiday.

When did Labor Day begin?

The modern holiday is widely traced back to an organized parade in New York City in 1882. Union leaders had called for what they had labelled a “monster labor festival” on Tuesday, Sept. 5, according to Linda Stinson, a former historian for the Department of Labor (the idea for a general labor festival may have originated in Canada, which today also celebrates “Labour Day” on the first Monday in September). Initially that morning, few people showed up, and organizers worried that workers had been reluctant to surrender a day’s pay to join the rally. But soon the crowds began flowing in from across the city, and by the end of the day some 10,000 people had marched in the parade and joined festivities afterward in what the press dubbed “a day of the people.”

When did it become an official holiday?

The practice of holding annual festivities to celebrate workers spread across the country, but Labor Day didn’t become a national holiday for more than a decade. Oregon became the first state to declare it a holiday in 1887, and states like New York, Massachusetts and Colorado soon followed suit. Under President Grover Cleveland, and amid growing awareness of the labor movement, the first Monday in September became a national holiday in 1896.

Why is it on the first Monday in September anyway?

Labor union leaders had pushed for a September date for the New York demonstration, which coincided with a conference in the city of the Knights of Labor, one of the largest and most influential of the unions. The first two New York City Labor Days took place on the 5th of September, but in 1884, the third annual New York City Labor Day holiday was scheduled for the first Monday in September, and that date stuck.

The September rally would soon clash with International Worker’s Day on May 1, which arose out of what is known as the Haymarket Affair. On May 4, 1886, protesters in Chicago gathered to demand an 8-hour workday. Toward the end of the day, a peaceful demonstration devolved into violence when a bomb was hurled toward the police, killing one officer instantly and injuring others. The police responded by firing into the crowd, killing a still undetermined number of people. The incident enraged labor activists but also fueled fears in America that the labor movement had become radicalized, prompting a crackdown on labors groups: the bomb thrower was never identified, but four people were hanged for their alleged involvement.

In the wake of the Haymarket Affair, Union leaders and socialists declared May 1 as International Workers’ Day, and the day was and continues to be unofficially observed in the U.S. It’s also that date that most other countries officially or unofficially observe as a holiday in honor of workers. But when President Grover Cleveland moved to create a national labor holiday, he chose to avoid the thorny history of that May date.

So what’s the difference between Labor Day and May Day (International Workers’ Day) in the U.S.?

Jonathan Cutler, associate professor of sociology at Wesleyan, described Labor Day as a “government alternative” to May Day in an informative interview with NPR about the Haymarket Affair. May Day may have helped promote the creation of a national holiday, but Labor Day is associated with a different significance. “May Day has always been linked to the demand for less work and more pay; Labor Day celebrates the ‘dignity’ of work,” Cutler said in the interview.

We have Monday off, but does the labor community still actually celebrate the holiday?

Yep. To this day there is still a major parade in New York City (and other cities across the country, large and small), and the #UnionStrong will probably make a big showing on Twitter. It’s true that union membership has been declining for years, but many of the challenges that faced workers more than a century ago are still being overcome today, whether by the growing movement for higher wages in the fast food industry or by overworked tech and finance employees calling for better hours.

“If there is anyone who needs to attend to the spirit of Haymarket, it is the American white-collar professional who works 10 hour days, including many weekends, and who has fewer paid vacation days than other white-collar professionals around the world,” Cutler said in the interview with NPR.

So, are white clothes really out?

Yes and no.

TIME Environment

Solved: Mystery of Moving Stones in Death Valley

A sailing stone in Racetrack playa, Death Valley, CA.
A sailing stone in Racetrack playa, Death Valley, in California Mark Newman—Getty Images

A group of scientists say they've figured out how the "sailing stones" glide along the desert floor on their own

So-called sailing stones in California’s Death Valley National Park have perplexed tourists and scientists alike for their apparent ability to move on their own, leaving sometimes meter-long tracks in their wake.

But after years of speculation, researchers with patience, remote weather monitors, cameras, and stones that are fitted with GPS say they have discovered the force behind the phenomenon.

Wind (very strong winds) and ice (very thick ice) have long been considered as possible explanations for why the rocks, sometimes weighing hundreds of pounds, move. It’s actually a combination of a little of both, the team of researchers say in their study, published in the journal PLOS One this week.

Rainwater in what is known as the Racetrack Playa creates a shallow pond over the playa that, in cold winter temperatures, freezes over. When the ice begins to melt under the sun, it first breaks up into large panels thin enough that, with a nudge from even light winds, they shift — and push whatever rocks may lie in their path.

TIME NFL

NFL Cracks Down on Domestic Violence After Criticism

2014 NFL Draft
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. Elsa—Getty Images

Six-game suspension for a first offense, lifetime ban for a second

The NFL said Thursday that it would impose stricter penalties on players and any other league personnel who commit domestic abuse, following fierce criticism of a two-game suspension it handed down to a player who allegedly beat his fiancée.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement in a letter to team owners, saying that anyone in the league who violates its Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault will face a six-game suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense. And he alluded to the outrage that followed the two-game suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who had been indicted for allegedly hitting his now wife so hard that he knocked her unconscious.

“Whether in the context of workplace conduct, advancing policies of diversity and inclusion, or promoting professionalism in all we do, our mission has been to create and sustain model workplaces filled with people of character,” Goodell wrote. “Although the NFL is celebrated for what happens on the field, we must be equally vigilant in what we do off the field.

“At times, however, and despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals,” he continued. “We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place. My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”

The NFL suspended Rice last month for two games. A video posted online appeared to show Rice dragging his unconscious then fiancée out of an elevator in an Atlantic City casino after the alleged incident.

In the letter, Goodell also announced a series of education and training for players and all NFL personnel, additional support for educational programs in schools and youth football programs, and a campaign to raise awareness about sexual assault and prevention.

“Domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong,” read a memo to all NFL personnel that was included in the letter. “They are illegal. They are never acceptable and have no place in the NFL under any circumstances.”

The NFL Players Association reacted cautiously to the change Thursday.

“We were informed today of the NFL’s decision to increase penalties on domestic violence offenders under the Personal Conduct Policy for all NFL employees,” the players’ union said in a statement. “As we do in all disciplinary matters, if we believe that players’ due process rights are infringed upon during the course of discipline, we will assert and defend our members’ rights.”

TIME celebrities

Joan Rivers ‘Resting Comfortably’ in New York City Hospital

FILE  Comedian Joan Rivers Hospitalised After She Stops Breathing Following An Operation On Her Vocal Chords
Joan Rivers attends the 2009 Mardi Gras VIP party at the Zeta Bar of the Hilton Hotel in Sydney on March 5, 2009 Mike Flokis—Getty Images

Comedian was scheduled to perform Friday in Red Bank, N.J.

Updated 7:39 a.m. Friday

Joan Rivers, the 81-year-old comedian and television personality, was rushed from a doctor’s office to a New York City hospital on Thursday morning after she went into cardiac arrest, according to the Associated Press.

“This morning, Joan Rivers was taken to The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, where she is being attended to. Her family wants to thank everybody for their outpouring of love and support,” Sid Dinsay, a spokesman for the hospital, said in a statement. Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, said Thursday that Rivers is “resting comfortably” after the episode.

Rivers, who rose to national fame with her 1965 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, was scheduled to perform on Friday in Red Bank, N.J. The Count Basie Theatre said in a statement on its website that Rivers’ show has been postponed and that they “look forward to hosting the iconic comedienne in the near future.”

The entertainer gave a talk on Wednesday at the Time-Life building, where TIME is based, and had told the audience she had no physical ailments — even calling herself “lucky” — according to a reporter who was at the event. Rivers said she does not restrict what she eats and joked that the processed foods and fake sugar may be what preserves the body.

With reporting by Dan Kedmey

TIME Syria

U.N. Says 43 Peacekeepers Detained by Armed Group in Golan Heights

Irish members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) sit on their armoured vehicles in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights as they wait to cross into the Syrian-controlled territory, on August 28, 2014.
Irish members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) sit on their armoured vehicles in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights as they wait to cross into the Syrian-controlled territory, on August 28, 2014. Jack Guez—AFP/Getty Images

Rebel groups, including an al-Qaeda affiliate, are clashing with the Syrian military at the border between Israel and Syria.

The United Nations said Thursday that 43 UN peacekeepers are being detained by “an armed group” at the border between Syria and Israel where Islamist militants are clashing with the Syrian military. Another 81 UN peacekeepers in the area of separation were trapped at their positions, the UN said.

Rebel forces, including the al-Qaeda affiliate known as the Nusra Front, have reportedly advanced on Syrian forces and seized the Quneitra border crossing near where the UN peacekeepers were detained.

Some 1,200 peacekeepers with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force monitor the demilitarized zone in the Golan Heights, comprising servicemen from Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, the Netherlands and the Philippines.

“The United Nations is making every effort to secure the release of the detained peacekeepers, and to restore the full freedom of movement of the Force throughout its area of operation,” the UN said in a statement.

UN peacekeepers have been apprehended in Syria in the past and released, including last year when a group of Filipino UN peacekeepers were released.

TIME States

Woman Dies at Burning Man After Being Hit by Bus

This is a DigitalGlobe satellite image "overview" of the Burning Man Festival in Black Rock City Nevada.
This is a DigitalGlobe satellite image "overview" of the Burning Man Festival in Black Rock City Nevada. DigitalGlobe/ScapeWare3d—DigitalGlobe/Getty Images

Some 60,000 people are in the Nevada desert for the festival.

A woman died at Nevada’s Burning Man Festival after she was run over by a bus early Thursday, event organizers said.

According to a statement posted to a website affiliated with the festival, local officials say the woman is believed to have died after falling under a bus carrying festival participants. The woman has not been identified, and the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.

“This is a terrible accident,” Burning Man co-founder Marian Goodell said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and campmates. Black Rock Rangers and Emergency Services Department staff are providing support to those affected.”

Some 60,000 people are converging on the Nevada desert this week for the annual arts and culture festival.

TIME celebrities

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Got Married in France Last Weekend

Finally

Superstar couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were secretly married in France on Saturday, a spokesperson told the Associated Press on Thursday.

The duo reportedly first came together on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith about a decade ago, but they were only engaged in 2012. Now, their marriage is official.

Jolie and Pitt were married in Château Miraval in the south of France in a small ceremony attended by family and friends, including the couple’s six children, the AP reports.

The couple is set to get back together on the screen next year in a drama that Jolie wrote and will direct called By the Sea, set for release next year.

[AP]

TIME Crime

Feds Investigating Cyberattack on JPMorgan Chase and Other Banks

U.S. Banks Post Near-Record Profits In Second Quarter Of 2014
A man walks past JP Morgan Chase's corporate headquarters on August 12, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

The motivation is still unclear

Federal authorities are helping to investigate reported cyberattacks against JPMorgan Chase and other banks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Joshua Campbell told the Washington Post in a statement late Wednesday that the agency was working with the Secret Service “to determine the scope of recently reported cyber attacks against several American financial institutions.”

Multiple news outlets, including Bloomberg News and The New York Times, are reporting that the banks were infiltrated by hackers who stole gigabytes of data, including information that would enable them to siphon money from accounts. Both organizations cite unnamed sources.

The motivation behind the attacks and the identity of the attackers is still unclear, though Bloomberg, which first reported the intrusions, reports that at least one of the banks was linked to Russian hackers.

Earlier this month, a U.S. cybersecurity firm said that a Russian crime ring was suspected of obtaining access to a record 1.2 billion username and password combinations.

[Washington Post]

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser