TIME Crime

More Than Two Environmental Activists Were Killed Each Week in 2014

Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images Diana Rios Rengifo, the daughter of one of the four indigenous Ashéninka leaders murdered in the Peruvian Amazon in early September, speaks during a ceremony in New York on Nov. 17, 2014

A majority of deaths were tied to disputes over hydropower, mining and agri-business

The killing of environmental activists jumped by 20% in 2014, with at least 116 deaths around the world tied to disputes involving land and natural resources, the London-based advocacy organization Global Witness claimed this week.

“[That’s] almost double the number of journalists killed in the same period,” its report said. “Disputes over the ownership, control and use of land was an underlying factor in killings of environmental and land defenders in nearly all documented cases.”

According to How Many More?, the majority of deaths took place in Central and South America; Brazil topped the list with 29 cases followed by Colombia with 25.

Global Witness dubbed Honduras as “the most dangerous country per capita to be an environmental activist,” where during the past five years 101 individuals have been killed in relation to their advocacy work.

The organization urged governments across the globe to take bolder measures to tackle the issue ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference that will be held in Paris later this year.

“Environmental and land defenders are often on the frontlines of efforts to address the climate crisis and are critical to success,” said the report. “Unless governments do more to protect these activists, any words agreed in Paris will ultimately ring hollow.”

TIME El Salvador

16 People Were Murdered Every Day in El Salvador in March

An army soldier guards a crime scene after eight people were shot dead in Quezaltepeque
Reuters An army soldier guards a crime scene after eight people were shot dead in Quezaltepeque, El Salvador, on March 30, 2015

The grim tally is now hitting record highs

El Salvador recorded more murders in March than in any other month during the past decade, as gangland violence and drug trafficking continue to ravage the nation of 6 million.

Citing figures from the country’s National Civil Police (PNC), the newspaper La Prensa Grafica reports that at least 481 people were murdered in March — or almost 16 a day. The figure represents a 52% increase from the same period last year

The Central American nation has been rocked by renewed bouts of violence after a two-year truce between notorious gangs MS-13 and Barrio 18 collapsed last year.

Following the end of the cease-fire, the country’s security forces have taken a harder line with gang members and drug traffickers. In January, the director of El Salvador’s PNC said law-enforcement officials had the right to shoot suspected criminals with “complete confidence.”

“There is an institution that backs us. There is a government that supports us,” Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde told reporters during a press conference.

Nearly 40 police officers were killed in the line of duty last year. However, analysts say police deaths in 2015 will surpass that figure.

TIME archeology

The Fabled ‘City of the Monkey God’ Has Been Found in the Honduran Rain Forest

Evidence of an ancient settlement was found in the most inaccessible forest in Central America

An ancient lost city from a mysterious culture has been discovered in the eastern Honduran rain forest.

Legend speaks of a “White City” or “City of the Monkey God” so remote that no one has ever found it, reports National Geographic.

That is until a team of American and Honduran archaeologists returned from deep within the Central American nation’s jungle last week.

The scientists found evidence of settlements and remnants of an unknown civilization that thrived thousands of years ago.

Stone sculptures, ceremonial seats, carved vessels decorated with snakes and other animals made up a cache of 52 artifacts that lay on the surface. Archaeologists believe much more lies below the ground.

Read more at National Geographic.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 23

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

Today we’re highlighting five of our favorite “Best Ideas” from 2014.

1. Affirmative Action should be adapted to accommodate structural racism and America’s modern segregation.

By Sheryll Cashin in the Root

2. The death penalty is incompatible with human dignity.

By Charles Ogletree in the Washington Post

3. The border isn’t the problem: A detailed, map-powered breakdown of the real story behind this immigration crisis.

By Zack Stanton in the Wilson Quarterly

4. Forty lost years: the case for one six-year term for U.S. presidents.

By Lawrence Summers in the Financial Times

5. The wisdom of crowds: The CIA is learning a lot by aggregating the guesswork of ordinary Americans.

By Alix Spiegel at National Public Radio

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME portfolio

Documenting Immigration From Both Sides of the Border

For the past eight years, Kirsten Luce has been documenting immigration issues between the U.S. and Mexico

On Nov. 20, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a series of executive actions to reform immigration laws in the United States. These new actions will protect up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation, expand border security, and create new programs to promote citizenship and legal immigration.

Photographer Kirsten Luce has been documenting both sides of the U.S.–Mexico border since 2006, when she became a staff photographer at The Monitor in the border town of McAllen, Texas. After moving to New York City in 2008, Luce had a shift in perspective and started to look at immigration issues from a national point of view, she says.

Earlier this year, immigration came back at the forefront of the national debate when a massive influx of unaccompanied minors and families crossed the border. “When I first started seeing the news in May and June,” Luce says, “I thought I was aware of how busy the border has been for a couple of years [and that] reports might be exaggerating things. I was wrong.”

Luce immediately went to Texas, embedding herself with local law enforcement. They encountered two groups of 12 women and children within an hour, and then another group several minutes later. “Normally, you go on a ride along, [and] you don’t see anything for a couple of hours,” says Luce. “You might see one group the whole time… [This time] it was surreal.”

And while news organizations usually had little interest for Luce’s work on immigration, suddenly “people wanted whatever pictures they could get from the Rio Grande Valley to try to understand this space that has become the focal point of the national debate on immigration,” she says. Since this summer, Luce has been able to publish every story that she has produced, with other journalists also reaching out to her for advice on how to work in the area.

Luce’s comprehensive body of work covers diverse aspects of immigration on both sides of the border – from illegal border crossing to border patrol agents, stash houses where migrants are kept on arrival in the US. She is well aware that, as a journalist, such access is hard to come by. Over the years, Luce has maintained good relations with several local law enforcement agencies and they have grown to trust her. And while she is not always allowed to ask migrants about their stories, Luce appreciates the law enforcement officers that give her a chance to document the situation while they do their jobs.

“My intention is to contribute to a dialogue on the current immigration system,” Luce says. She has seen the complex narrative of immigration evolve for years, and stresses the importance of understanding this fluid situation and the people it affects on both sides of the border.

Kirsten Luce is a freelance photographer based in New York City.

Marisa Schwartz is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


TIME Nicaragua

Thousands Protest Nicaragua Canal Project Over Land-Grab Fears

Demonstrators hold a banner during a march to protest against the construction of the Interoceanic Grand Canal in Managua
Oswaldo Rivas—Reuters Demonstrators hold a banner during a march to protest against the construction of the Interoceanic Grand Canal on Dec. 10, 2014, in Managua, Nicaragua

Entire villages will have to be moved for the new waterway

Thousands of flag-waving demonstrators marched through the Nicaraguan capital Managua on Wednesday to protest a $50 billion canal project set to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as a direct rival to the iconic Panama Canal.

Officials vow the 173-mile construction will have minimal impact on the environment and bring more than 50,000 jobs, but local people fear that entire villages will have to be forcibly displaced as a consequence, reports the Associated Press.

“Your lands belong to you,” Vilma Núñez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, told the crowd.

Protesters marched to the city’s U.N. offices to demand transparency and adequate compensation for those displaced. Groundbreaking is slated for Dec. 22.


TIME central america

Powerful Earthquake Rocks Central America

One fatality but no major damage reported

A shallow 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of El Salvador and Nicaragua late Monday, killing one and sending tremors across Central America.

No major damage has been reported and an initial tsunami alert was retracted, Reuters reports. One man was killed by a falling electricity post, according to the mayor of the El Salvadorean city of San Miguel.

The quake happened at a 40-km depth, with the epicenter located 67 km west-southwest of Jiquilillo in Nicaragua and 174 km southeast of El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador, the U.S. Geological Survey says.


TIME columbus day

See How Christopher Columbus Got His Own Holiday

The 15th century explorer is known for "discovering" the New World

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, or at least, that’s what they told you in Kindergarten class.

In fact, that’s probably all you really remember about the Genoa-born explorer, Christopher Columbus — and only when Columbus Day rolls around, if you’re fortunate enough to get a day off for it (Only 23 states give their workers a paid day off to celebrate it, according to a 2013 Pew poll).

So you may be wondering how Columbus Day actually became a federal holiday, and who celebrates it. Watch the video above to find out.

TIME the backstory

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 8, 2014

Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights work from Ernesto Bazan’s new book, Isla, which was published earlier this year and is the final installment of the photographer’s Cuban trilogy. The book consists of masterful, timeless black-and-white panoramas which only add to Bazan’s already impressive visual chronicle of the island state.

Ernesto Bazan’s Cuban Trilogy (The New York Times Lens blog)

Angel Valentin and Andrea Bruce: A Central American Dream (The New York Times) Photographs of a Guatemalan reality; the point of origin of tens of thousands who try to make their way to the U.S. every year.

Mikhael Subotzky: Ponte City (Wired Raw File) Another look at the Magnum photographer’s new book on Africa’s tallest residential skyscraper, which was also recently featured on TIME LightBox.

The Story Behind Ken Jarecke’s Horrific and Controversial Gulf War Photo (American Photo) Jarecke’s first-person account behind his 1991 photo of a burned Iraqi soldier.

Martin Bogren (Lens Culture) The Swedish photographer talks about working on his excellent Tractor Boys project, which was published as a book last year.

How a 17th century painting inspired a 70s LA photo (Phaidon) Stephen Shore tells how one his photographs was influenced by a centuries-old compositional technique.

The Photo That Made Me: Martin Schoeller, New York 1998 (TIME LightBox) Schoeller explains how a Vanessa Redgrave portrait jump-started his career.

Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


Panama Opens a Frank Gehry–Designed Biodiversity Museum

Panama Gehry Museum
Arnulfo Franco—AP In this Sept. 27, 2014, photo, two men stand in the atrium of the Biomuseo, designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, in Panama City

The project has been a long time coming, construction having started in 1999

Panama has opened a biodiversity museum designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, his first project in Latin America.

The Biomuseo — a hodgepodge of bright-colored metal canopies swopping over the eight galleries inside — presents a tour of the Central American nation’s rich, diverse ecosystems, the BBC reports.

The building itself “was designed to tell the story of how the isthmus of Panama rose from the sea, uniting two continents, separating a vast ocean in two, and changing the planet’s biodiversity forever,” the museum’s website says.

Gehry’s other high-profile works include the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

The BBC reports that the project has been beset by budget overruns and delays since work began on it in 1999.

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