TIME Behind the Photos

The Best Pictures of the Week: Jan. 23 – Jan. 30

From Kurdish fighters recapturing the ISIS held town of Kobani, Syria to the deadly attacks on Israeli forces by Hezbollah militants on the Israel-Lebanon border and life returns to normal with Ebola cases down to single digits in Liberia to blizzard Juno hitting the U.S. East Coast, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME viral

Watch a Daring Ice Climber Become the First to Conquer the Frozen Niagara Falls

"I may have reached the top, but Niagara won the war"

A number of brave souls have gone over the Niagara Falls, but on Tuesday Canadian ice climbers Will Gadd and Sarah Hueniken became the first people to scale the world famous landmark.

Initially kept secret by sponsor Red Bull, the daring stunt was officially announced when news of the harrowing climb began to spread, according to National Geographic.

The two climbers followed a route along the edge of Horseshoe Falls, a 150-foot waterfall that is considered to be the most powerful in the world. Hueniken, who grew up 20 miles away, belayed Gadd as he made the first ascent. Hueniken then followed around 40 minutes later.

To us regular folk it looks like victory, but Gadd felt as if Niagara may have won the battle.

“That climb beat me up. I may have reached the top, but Niagara won the war,” he told Red Bull. “At the end of the day I was hypothermic. That waterfall did a lot more damage to me than I did to it!”

TIME New York

Pot Arrests Plunge in NYC After Policy Change

The policy is working

(NEW YORK) — New York City’s pledge to stop making many marijuana arrests is playing out on the streets, where arrests and summonses for small-time pot possession have plummeted since the policy change this fall.

After a mid-November turn toward violations and summonses instead of misdemeanor arrests for carrying modest amounts of pot, such arrests plunged by 75 percent in December compared to last year, from about 1,820 to 460, according to state Division of Criminal Justice Services statistics obtained by The Associated Press. The November numbers fell 42 percent, from 2,200 to 1,280.

Even summonses have fallen by about 10 percent since the policy change, to 1,180, compared to the same period a year ago, New York Police Department figures show.

“Since the inception of our policy in 2014, marijuana enforcement activity is trending down in all categories” for the bottom-rung marijuana charge, Deputy Chief Kim Royster told the AP.

Critics who decried the once-spiking arrests see the decline as promising. But they say it’s too early to draw lasting conclusions, especially since low-level arrests and summonses of all kinds plummeted for a few weeks after the deadly shootings of two officers Dec. 20.

“Clearly, progress is being made,” but it needs to continue and deepen, said Gabriel Sayegh, the Drug Policy Alliance’s New York state director.

The plunge in arrests caps dramatic shifts in recent years in how the nation’s biggest city polices small amounts of pot.

Arrests for the lowest-level marijuana charge — possession of less than 25 grams, about a sandwich bag full — shot up from about 5,700 in 1995 to 50,700 in 2011, spurring criticism of police tactics and priorities. Then the arrests started declining notably amid public pressure and some police instruction and procedural changes, hitting about 29,000 in 2013.

They were keeping pace this year until November, when de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton announced the new direction. With the sharp fall-off in the last two months, there were about 26,400 marijuana arrests in 2014, down about 9 percent from 2013, the state statistics show.

State law makes it a misdemeanor to have up to 25 grams of marijuana in “public view.” But the mayor said the city was choosing to treat that largely as a non-criminal violation — meaning a summons rather than an arrest, and a potential $100-plus fine instead of a possible three months in jail and a criminal record. (Under a 1977 state law, carrying the same amount of pot out of sight was already a violation, not a misdemeanor.)

Arrests were to continue in some cases, such as when people are allegedly seen smoking the drug in public.

“The law is a law, but what we’re trying to do is approach the enforcement of the law in a smarter way,” de Blasio said in November. Noting that the cases often get dismissed, he said the change would spare police time for more serious matters and spare people arrest records, which can affect public housing eligibility and some other aspects of life even without a conviction.

The head of the rank-and-file officers’ union was cool to the idea, suggesting it could tie officers’ hands in dealing with lawbreakers. But the captains’ union president expressed support for it.

Critics of the arrests suggest the summons strategy isn’t a perfect solution. Multiple marijuana-possession convictions can spur deportation even if the charges are violations — something defendants may not grasp if they decide to plead guilty, thinking the only consequence is a fine, legal advocates say. They also have concerns about how cases will be handled in crowded summons courts.

“A more meaningful change would be to de-emphasize enforcement of non-criminal violations across the board,” the New York Civil Liberties Union said in City Council hearing testimony last month.

But de Blasio put the difference simply when announcing the new policy: “Would you rather be arrested or be given a summons?”

TIME weather

East Coasters Share Amazing Storm Photos on Social Media

People across the northeast took to Instagram to post their #Snowmageddon2015 photos

TIME Travel

The 16 Best Small-Town Museums in the U.S.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University
Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University Paul Warchol

These museums offer outsize collections of Impressionist paintings, modern installations, and folk art—without the big-city crowds

The first significant new museum of American art in nearly half a century debuted in 2011. But to view Crystal Bridges’ collection—from a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington to Jackson Pollock canvases—you don’t travel to New York, L.A., or Chicago. You head down a forested ravine in a town in northwestern Arkansas.

As museum founder and Walmart heiress Alice Walton scooped up tens of millions of dollars’ worth of art from across the country, thinly veiled snobbish rhetoric began to trickle out from the coasts. Most notably, when she purchased Asher B. Durand’s 1849 Kindred Spirits from the New York Public Library for $35 million, some culturati bristled at the thought that this famed Hudson River School landscape would be leaving for Bentonville. The controversy raised the question: who deserves access to great art?

Yet a small town is precisely the kind of place where a stellar art collection fits in. After all, coastal hamlets, mountaintop villages, and desert whistle-stops have inspired American artists for generations, among them, the Impressionists of Connecticut’s Old Lyme Colony and the minimalist installation artists who more recently gentrified Marfa. Where else can you find the mix of affordable rents, access to inspiring natural vistas, and enough peace and quiet to actually get work done?

Many small towns also offer detour-worthy museums, some housed in spectacular historic spaces—old factories, former army bases, Beaux-Arts estates, Victorian mansions—and others built from scratch by internationally renowned architects like Zaha Hadid and Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron. And with works inside just as varied, from landscape paintings at the Taos Art Museum to minimalist installations at Dia:Beacon to American folk art at the Shelburne, you’re sure to find a small-town art museum to suit any artistic taste.

Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT

When iron industrialist Alfred A. Pope began buying French Impressionist masterpieces, the movement was still stirring outrage across Europe for its radical departure from tradition. But you’d never know it from the intimate, even cozy, atmosphere at the Hill-Stead Museum, which places these works in the same context in which Pope would have enjoyed them—surrounded by antiques and period Federal-, Chippendale-, and Empire-style furnishings in his hilltop estate outside of Hartford. Like the works you’ll find inside, by Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, and Édouard Manet, the house itself now seems lovely and genteel. But it also comes with a radical backstory: the Colonial Revival mansion, completed in 1901, was designed by Pope’s own daughter, only the fourth registered female architect in American history. $15; hillstead.org.

Ohr-O’Keefe Museum, Biloxi, MS

Biloxi’s Ohr-O’Keefe Museum raises many questions. You might wonder what an avant-garde museum is doing in a Gulf Coast beach town known for its casinos and sunshine. Or how starchitect Frank Gehry got involved in a project dedicated to obscure 19th-century ceramicist George Ohr. Or how this place is even still standing. During construction, Hurricane Katrina slammed an unmoored casino barge directly into the unfinished buildings. Any lack of logic seems appropriate in honoring Ohr, a true eccentric who dubbed himself the Mad Potter of Biloxi and was known for his delightfully misshapen, brightly colored pottery. Opened in 2010 in a thicket of live oaks, the museum encompasses brick-and-steel pavilions, twisted egg-shaped pods, and examples of 19th-century vernacular architecture, with galleries on African American art, ceramics, and Gulf Coast history. $10; georgeohr.org.

The Huntington, San Marino, CA

San Marino is named for the tiny republic on the Italian peninsula. And it’s an appropriate connection for the Huntington, where the vibe is distinctly European, thanks to 120 manicured acres (reserve ahead for the Tea Room, surrounded by a rose garden) and a collection skewed to Old World classics. The Huntington Art Gallery has the largest collection of 18th- and 19th-century British art outside of London—including works by Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable. Other galleries within this Beaux-Arts estate cover Renaissance paintings and 18th-century sculpture as well as the furniture of Frank Lloyd Wright and paintings by Mary Cassatt and Edward Hopper. A Gutenberg Bible from the 1450s and an illuminated manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are among the library’s gems. $20.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, MI

College towns offer more than beautiful campuses, tradition-rich bars, and football. Many can also brag about world-class art collections. Case in point: Michigan State University’s new Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. It’s the first-ever university building designed by Pritzker Prize–winner Zaha Hadid and only her second project in North America. The corrugated stainless steel and glass facade juts sharply like a ship—or perhaps more accurately a spaceship—run aground. While the collection is primarily contemporary, the curators included some classic works to better contextualize the newer acquisitions. So you can expect Old Master paintings, 19th-century American paintings, and 20th-century sculpture, along with artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome, and the pre-Columbian Americas. Free; broadmuseum.msu.edu.

Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY

Low-slung and shedlike, with its corrugated tin roof and parallel 615-foot slabs of poured concrete, Eastern Long Island’s newest art museum features a style that might be called Modern Agricultural. Surrounded by a meadow of tall grasses on the long road to Montauk, the museum is a minimalist stunner that’s perfectly suited to its surroundings: the long horizontal space speaks both to the uninterrupted horizons of the region’s famed beaches and to the unfussy simplicity that first attracted artists like Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Willem de Kooning. Inside, under an ever-changing glow from skylights above, the collection honors the generations of artists who called this area home, such as American Impressionist William Merritt Chase and mid-century realist Fairfield Porter. In 2014, it won Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron a T+L Design Award for best museum. $10; parrishart.org.

Read the full list HERE.

More from Travel + Leisure:

TIME weather

East Coast Readies Itself for Up to 3 Feet of Snow

A massive blizzard, expected to be one of the largest ever experienced on the east coast, reached New York on Monday. States of emergency were declared in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York 

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: Northeast Hit By Massive Storm

This could be an historic storm

A massive snowstorm hit much of the Northeast Monday and Tuesday, with some areas receiving more than 2 ft of snow, airlines canceling thousands of flights and trains and busses in major cities stopped.

Watch today’s Know Right Now to find out more about what happened after the storm, and read more here.

TIME

Man Shoots Himself Outside News Corp. Building in New York

The building houses Fox News, the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal

(NEW YORK) — Police say a man has apparently shot himself to death outside the News Corp. building in midtown Manhattan.

The 41-year-old man died after the shooting at about 9 a.m. Monday.

Authorities aren’t certain what prompted the shooting, which occurred outside the building that houses Fox News, the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal. The media conglomerate News Corp. is controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

It’s not clear if the man had any ties to News Corp. or if he was just standing outside the building.

A weapon was recovered at the scene, and no one else was injured.

Traffic was snarled in Midtown as police investigated.

TIME weather

Millions Dig in as ‘Crippling’ Winter Blizzard Slams Northeast

"This could be a storm the likes of which we have never seen before"

A long awaited blizzard of potentially historic proportions began inundating the American northeast on Monday night — turning cities across the region into virtual ghost towns as residents hunkered down indoors.

As the first storm bands moved across the East Coast, snow fell at a rate of 2 to 4 inches an hour at times, according to CNN. Meanwhile, winds exceeding 70 mph lashed the New England coastline.

Cities from Pennsylvania to Maine prepared for snowfalls in excess of two feet. Airlines canceled thousands of flights, public-transportation systems wound down, governors declared states of emergency, and officials said they would institute far-reaching travel bans to keep people off the roads.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said subways and buses in New York City would stop running at 11 p.m. and warned that the situation would be “exponentially worse” by Tuesday morning. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered drivers to be off the roads by 11 p.m.

“This will most likely be one of the largest blizzards in the history of New York City,” de Blasio said.

Boston was bracing for the worst, expecting as much as three feet of snow, compared with about two feet in New York and more than a foot in Philadelphia. By early Monday evening more than 5,000 flights had been canceled in preparation for the storm, including all flights out of Boston Logan Airport starting as early as 7 p.m. Monday.

“This is a top-five historic storm, and we should treat it as such,” Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said. “This is clearly going to be a really big deal.”

The governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York each declared states of emergency. Travel restrictions in each state were set to begin Monday evening, when the heaviest snowfall was expected to start.

MORE: Here’s Who Decides if Your Flight Takes Off This Week

The National Weather Service described the storm as “crippling and potentially historic,” and warned of “life-threatening conditions” on roadways. Officials from New York to Boston warned residents to remain indoors if possible.

In New York City, thousands of city workers scrambled to prepare 6,000 miles of roads to operate during the storm. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that travel would be “hazardous” on Monday and Tuesday, and commuter-rail lines were expected to halt service overnight. Cuomo asked city residents to expedite their schedules to avoid evening delays.

All Broadway theater performances scheduled for Monday were canceled, according to an afternoon statement from Charlotte St. Martin, the executive director of the Broadway League.

MORE: Why Blizzards Turn Us Into Irrational Hoarders at the Grocery Store

In Massachusetts, Baker warned of power outages and a frozen transportation system in his state, where forecasters predicted winds of up to 75 m.p.h.

“People across Massachusetts should presume that roads … will be very hard, if not impossible, to navigate, that power outages are a distinct possibility, and that most forms of public transportation may not be available,” he said.

TIME weather

Northeast Storm Strengthens After Dumping Snow on Millions

Nor'easter Storm Brings Light Snow To New York
A man takes a picture of ducks and geese at a lake in Brooklyn's Prospect Park following an evening storm on Jan. 24, 2015 in New York City. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

Millions across the Northeast woke up to a blanket of white Saturday morning after an overnight storm, which was expected to last through the day, dropped several inches of snow in some parts. By Saturday afternoon, New England was experiencing the brunt of the storm, with the largest accumulation falling in Hartford County, Connecticut, which had 8 inches by 1 p.m. Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts could also expect 6 to 10 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Those areas can also expect to be hit with gusty winds.

The “front-end” of the storm delivered up to 9 inches of powder in areas of Connecticut and New Jersey…

Read the rest of the story from our partner NBCNews.com

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