TIME Innovation

A Code of Conduct for the Supreme Court

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

These are today's best ideas

1. Does the Supreme Court need a code of conduct?

By Lincoln Caplan in the New Yorker

2. Could the genes of real-life superheroes help find new pain drugs?

By Caroline Chen in Bloomberg Business

3. Here’s how scientists made solar power 30 percent more efficient.

By Iqbal Pittalwala at University of California Riverside

4. With privatized space travel, returning to the moon just got a lot cheaper.

By Elizabeth Howell in Space.com

5. Micropayments for news stories might be making a comeback.

By Matt Carroll in MediaShift

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 weird

New York Pays Family $115,000 Settlement After Accidentally Donating Grandma’s Body to Science

The woman's body was barely recognizable by the time her family found out what happened

A New York family has received a $115,000 settlement from the city after a Bronx morgue accidentally donated their mother’s corpse to a medical school.

The New York Daily News reported Thursday that 85-year-old Aura Ballesteros died in May 2014, but instead of holding her body while her children arranged a funeral, the morgue sent her body off to be used for research.

According to the Daily News, the state of New York has the right to either bury or donate a body that hasn’t been claimed after 14 days. When Ballesteros family discovered what had happened, too, her body had already been embalmed. Her son testified that she was nearly unrecognizable.

A new law would prevent this kind of incident from occurring in the future by requiring family consent before donating a body for research.

 

TIME Syria

3 Spanish Journalists Reported Missing in Syria

Aleppo
Khaled Khateb —AFP/Getty Images People walk past a damaged building in the al-Kalasa neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on July 19, 2015.

The three men disappeared while working in the northern city of Aleppo

(MADRID)—Three Spanish freelance journalists who traveled to Syria to report amid the country’s long-running civil war have gone missing around the embattled northern city of Aleppo, a Spanish journalism association said Tuesday, the latest ensnared in the world’s most dangerous assignment for reporters.

The disappearance of Antonio Pampliega, Jose Manuel Lopez and Angel Sastre, presumed to be working together, comes as most media organizations have pulled out of Syria, especially with the rise of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) group. At least 84 journalists have been killed since 2011 in Syria, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, while others remain missing or have been released for ransom.

Elsa Gonzalez, the president of the association, told Spanish National Television in a telephone interview that the three disappeared while working in the Aleppo area. She said they entered Syria from Turkey on July 10 and were last heard of two days later.

Sastre, a television journalist, last posted on Twitter July 10, when he wrote “courage” in Arabic, English and Spanish. Pampliega worked as a freelance reporter, whose most recent work featured a story about Spaniard fighting with Kurds in Kobani against the Islamic State group. Spanish media identified Lopez as a photojournalist.

It was not clear where exactly the men went missing. Once Syria’s commercial center, the city of Aleppo been carved up between government- and rebel-held neighborhoods since 2012, with government forces controlling much of western Aleppo and rebel groups in control of the east.

The Islamic State group, which has kidnapped Western journalists in Syria and later killed them, is outside the city and controls parts of the northern and eastern Aleppo countryside. The extremists are responsible for most kidnappings in Syria since the summer of 2013, but government-backed militias, criminal gangs and rebels affiliated with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army also have been involved with various motives.

An unprecedented spate of kidnappings by Islamic State militants starting in summer 2013 has kept most journalists away, particularly since the group began killing foreign journalists and aid workers it holds, starting with American journalist James Foley in August last year. Foley’s taped beheading was followed by the killing of American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, American aid worker Peter Kassig, as well as Japanese nationals Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto.

The group also has generated cash from ransoming European journalists.

Often media don’t report abduction cases at the request of the families or employers. It’s not clear how many foreign and local journalists remain held in Syria, though the number likely is in the dozens.

A Spanish Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with policy regulations said the ministry is aware of the situation and is working on it, declining to elaborate. Gonzalez did not say whether the journalists were on assignment for specific media organizations.

Aleppo is the scene of daily fighting. Government helicopters also regularly drop explosive barrels on rebel-held parts of the city.

A missile attack on a rebel-held neighborhood in Aleppo killed at least 10 people and wounded many others Tuesday, two activist groups said.

The Local Coordination Committees said the attack on the Maghayer neighborhood killed 10 people, including women and children.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack killed 18 people and wounded more than 50. It said the surface-to-surface missile destroyed several houses in the area.

It is not uncommon to have different death tolls in the aftermath of attacks in Syria, where the four-year conflict has killed more than 220,000 people.

Meanwhile near the border with Lebanon, Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah fighters captured several neighborhoods in the mountain resort of Zabadani that has been under attack for nearly three weeks.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station said troops and Lebanese militants have besieged rebels inside Zabadani from all sides, adding that they inflicted heavy casualties among them. It said dozens of fighters were wounded in the fighting.

The Observatory, which has a network of activists around Syria, said the Syrian government air force has dropped 36 barrel bombs on Zabadani since Tuesday morning. The Observatory reported that dozens of airstrikes have targeted Zabadani since the offensive began on July, 3.

The capture of Zabadani would tighten Hezbollah’s grip on Syrian territories bordering Lebanon and strengthen the Syrian government’s control over of the Beirut-Damascus highway.

___

Karam reported from Beirut. Associated Press writers Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Jon Gambrell in Cairo contributed to this report.

TIME twitter

More Americans Are Getting Their News on Facebook, Twitter

US-INTERNET-COMPANY-TWITTER
LEON NEAL—AFP/Getty Images

Twitter is the main source for breaking news

Facebook and Twitter are increasingly being used as sources of news, according to a report from the Pew Research Center.

The research found that 63% of Twitter and Facebook users now use the social media sites as news sources, up from around 50% in 2013 (the most recent data were collected in March 2015).

Twitter and Facebook have both invested in the news aspects of their operations recently. Twitter has debuted the live video-streaming app Periscope that was quickly picked up and used by journalists, and Facebook has introduced a “Trending Now” sidebar that shows users what’s being discussed most and lets them sort posts by popular topics. Plus, Twitter is on the cusp of introducing Project Lightning, a new initiative that will curate news around live events, including breaking news.

The Pew report found that Twitter’s users follow breaking news on the site at almost double the rate that Facebook users do. Twitter users also see stories about international affairs, national government and politics, business, and sports more frequently than those on Facebook.

Still, for most people on social media, neither Facebook nor Twitter is terribly important for their news consumption. Just 4% of Facebook users and 8% of Twitter users call their platform “the most important way I get news.” However, if Twitter and Facebook have any say in the matter, those numbers might start to increase.

TIME Video Games

The One Radical New iPhone Feature I Wasn’t Expecting

Matt Peckham for TIME

Should games be categorized as technology or entertainment? Apple's iOS 9 News app has a surprising answer.

Go look for book, film or music news, and you’ll probably wind up scouring Google’s aggregation tool. There, filed neatly under “Entertainment,” you’ll find stories about George R.R. Martin’s Winds of Winter, the first chapter of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, and teasers for the upcoming Ghostbusters film reboot or the Sherlock TV series’ 2015 Christmas special.

But news about Bethesda’s sprawling new post-apocalyptic roleplaying opus Fallout 4? “Zombies” mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3? The latest scuttlebutt about Nintendo’s upcoming “NX” console? You’ll have to swing over to “Technology.”

Sure, “Entertainment’s” also thronged with gossip about donut-licking pop music idols and tawdry celebrity shenanigans—hardly distinguished company. But the message is implicit: books, movies and music are “Arts,” while games are…something else.

Indeed, games are something else. Print books are migrating to e-readers and films plus music are now artifacts we can summon magically from our phones. But shifts in gaming are comparably tectonic. Game design is fueled by reality control fantasies, and interface recalibration over time is in its DNA. Think arcade cabinets, home computers, devoted consoles and handhelds, and now smartphones and tablets. Think about Nintendo and the Wii. Think about Oculus and its wraparound VR headset. Think about the point at which true virtual reality arrives.

Games are lashed to technological momentum’s mast, in other words, driven as much by revolutions in the semiconductor industry as revelatory design ideas. Books and movies don’t undergo motion control upheavals, or have elaborate Early Access programs whereby players can significantly influence development. Scanning music tracks (play, skip ahead, skip behind) in today’s streaming apps still works basically the same as punching buttons on boomboxes and Sony Walkmans did decades ago. Games, by contrast, occupy the space between those older, staid categories.

Sticking games in “Technology” has consequences. The filter reinforces stereotypes of technology as cold, clinical, sterile—ultimately apart from the artful or sublime. It frustrates gaming’s slouch toward basic validation as a legitimate art form (beyond its ivory tower acolytes).

So it’s with surprise and pleasure that I’m discovering Apple’s new “News” app, found in its just released iOS 9 beta, files game stories under “Entertainment” and not “Technology.” That, given how long games have labored under Google and Yahoo’s domineering framework, feels huge.

Apple News, in case you’re just hearing about it, brings Cupertino’s graceful form-and-function balancing act to story curation on the iPhone and iPad. Launch it, and it’ll ask that you select preferred media outlets before folding your choices into a stream with elegantly feng shui’d headlines and body text. Tap on “Explore,” and you can alternately browse by categories like “Food,” “Politics,” “Science” and so on. It’s all pretty standard fare.

But click “Entertainment,” and you’ll find channels for Vanity Fair, Billboard, Complex, Vulture…and Polygon. The latter is a games-slash-gaming-culture site. In the historical echelons of news curators like Google, Yahoo and now Apple, Polygon’s divorce from “Technology” (the sites stories still appear in the latter category on Google News) is kind of groundbreaking.

That said, the move feels tentative. There’s a “Browse Topics” section below “Browse Channels,” for instance, that includes categories like “Performing arts,” “Books and literature,” and “Pop music,” but nothing generalist for games, say an “Interactive entertainment” search. And Polygon, as far as I can tell, is all there is for game channels at this point. Where’s Kill Screen? Offworld? Quarter to Three?

Assuming Polygon’s filing under “Entertainment” was intentional, my hat’s off to Apple for boldly leading here. I just hope we’re seeing the tip of an iceberg, as opposed to an errant ice cube.

Apple’s iOS 9 is still in beta, of course, so everything could change. Call it a metaphor for where we’re at culturally, weighing gaming as a technology-driven or technology-transcendent medium, and still, clearly, in beta mode.

TIME U.S.

A Formerly Interned Japanese-American Couple Finally Got High School Diplomas

george Miko Kaihara graduation
Mark Eliot—Reuters George, front left, and Miko Kaihara, front right, are surrounded by family members in the Tustin High School Science Center prior to the graduation ceremony in Tustin, Calif. June 18, 2015.

They are both 90 and fulfilled a lifelong dream

George and Miko Kaihara received their high school diplomas on Thursday—at long last.

The couple had been in high school when they were sent to a government internment camp in Arizona during World War II in 1942; they were meant to have graduated in June 1943. The couple, both 90 and grandparents of seven, had finished their high school education at the camp, but said that their graduation ceremony, held at Tustin High School in Irvine, Calif., had been the fulfillment of a longtime dream. Referring to her diploma, Miko Kaihara said, “I want to show it off.”

“It was really important to us, because I know it’s always been their dream to receive a diploma from Tustin High,” said a spokesman for the school district.

[Reuters]

TIME

Brian Williams Loses NBC Nightly News Anchor Chair

Moves to MSNBC as Lester Holt takes his place full-time

Brian Williams will no longer serve as the anchor of the NBC Nightly News, NBC executives announced Thursday, and instead will soon be joining the cable network MSNBC.

The move represents a significant demotion for Williams who had become a star behind and away from the anchors’ desk. But it also marks a historic moment for 56-year-old Lester Holt, who will now serve as the permanent anchor of the Nightly News.

The changing of the guard at the Nightly News came after an investigation into Williams’ conduct, launched in February after the anchor was suspended for embellishing stories about his reporting — notably, his erroneous claim that a helicopter he was riding in during the Iraq War had come under fire.

NBC said Thursday that an extensive internal review found that although Williams had made a number of false statements about his work and career, “the statements in question did not for the most part occur on NBC News platforms or in the immediate aftermath of the news events, but rather on late-night programs and during public appearances, usually years after the news events in question.”

“Brian now has the chance to earn back everyone’s trust. His excellent work over twenty-two years at NBC News has earned him that opportunity,” said Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC. He also praised Holt as an “exceptional anchor who goes straight to the heart of every story and is always able to find its most direct connection to the everyday lives of our audience.”

“In many ways, television news stands at a crossroads,” Lack said, “and Lester is the perfect person to meet the moment.”

TIME Race

Rachel Dolezal Breaks Silence: ‘I Identify as Black’

"This is not some freak, Birth of a Nation blackface performance"

Rachel Dolezal has spoken out about the “complexity” of her identity for the first time since news broke that she had been masquerading as a black woman despite her white roots.

In an interview on NBC’s Today Show, the former leader of Spokane’s NAACP said she identifies as black and has for a long time. “This is not some freak, Birth of a Nation blackface performance,” she said. “This is on a real connected level how I’ve had to go there with the experience.”

Dolezal says she has few regrets in regard to interviews she’s done over the years where she hasn’t been particularly clear about her race or “racial identity,” but ultimately she wouldn’t do anything differently.

“My life has been one of survival,” Dolezal said on Tuesday. ” The decisions I’ve made along the way, including my identification, have been to survive.”

Dolezal’s appearance and story have spurred controversy in the days since her parents told news reporters that she is Caucasian, not African-American, as she’s been telling people over the past several years.

But the activist said she had identified as black since she was about five years old. “I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon,” she said.

Amid the backlash, Dolezal also lost her post as a part-time professor of Africana studies at Eastern Washington University. The Smoking Gun reported she had once sued Howard University, a historically black institution, for discriminating against her because she was white.

And on Monday, Dolezal resigned as the president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP. In a Facebook post, the 37-year-old said despite stepping down she would “never stop fighting for human rights.”

“This is not about me,” she wrote. “It’s about justice. This is not me quitting; this is a continuum.”

TIME sexism

8 Sad Truths About Women in Media

Diane Sawyer signs off on her last broadcast as anchor of World News on August 24, 2014..
Ida Mae Astute—ABC/Getty Images Diane Sawyer signs off on her last broadcast as anchor of World News on August 24, 2014..

A new report shows how far women must go in order to achieve real gender parity

The Women’s Media Center’s annual report is out, and the status of women in news and entertainment is as bleak as ever. Little progress has been made in most areas, and there are some places—like sports journalism—where women have actually lost ground. Representation of women in sports journalism dropped from 17% to 10% last year.

And some of the media news in 2014 was particularly discouraging for women. “Two high-profile roles previously held by women — Diane Sawyer of ABC News and Jill Abramson of The New York Times—were changed in 2014,” said Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center. “These veteran journalists were in positions of power at media giants, shaping, directing and delivering news. Both women were replaced by men.’’ The Status of Women in U.S. Media report, released Thursday, shows how far women still have to go in order to achieve real gender parity.

Here’s a list of some of the most depressing insights from the report, which draws on 49 studies of women across media platforms. (This is why some of the numbers are from 2012-2013, even though this is the report on 2014 and 2015).

1. The news industry still hasn’t achieved anything that resembles gender equality. Women are on camera only 32% of the time in evening broadcast news, and write 37% of print stories news stories. Between 2013 and 2014, female bylines and other credits increased just a little more than 1%. At the New York Times, more than 67% of bylines are male.

2. Men still dominate “hard news.” Even though the 2016 election could be the first time a woman presidential candidate gets a major party nomination, men report 65% of political stories. Men also dominate science coverage (63%), world politics coverage (64%) and criminal justice news (67%). Women have lost traction in sports journalism, with only 10% of sports coverage produced by women (last year, it was 17%). Education and lifestyle coverage were the only areas that demonstrated any real parity.

3. Opinions are apparently a male thing. Newspaper editorial boards are on average made up of seven men and four women. And the overall commentators on Sunday morning talk-shows are more than 70% male.

4. Hollywood executives are still overwhelmingly white and male. Studio senior management is 92% white and 83% male.

5. There’s bad news for actresses and minorities. Women accounted for only 12% of on-screen protagonists in 2014, and 30% of characters with speaking parts. There are also persistent racial disparities: White people are cast in lead roles more than twice as often as people of color, and white film writers outnumber minority writers 3 to 1. In 17% of films, no black people had speaking parts.

6. Women are losing traction behind the scenes. Women accounted for 25% of writers in 2013-2014, down from 34% the previous year. Women make up only 23% of executive producers (down from 27%) and 20% of show creators (down from 24%). For the 250 most profitable films made in 2014, 83% of the directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors are guys.

7. The stereotypes persist even in love. Black men are the most likely to be shown in relationships (68% of male characters in relationships are black) while Asian men are the least likely to have girlfriends on screen (29%). Latino characters of both genders were the most likely to be hyper-sexualized on-screen.

8. Latino characters are particularly under-represented. Latinos are 17% of the U.S. population and buy 25% of movie tickets, but have less than 5% of speaking roles in films. There are no Latino studio or network presidents, and from 2012 to 2013, 69% of all maids were played by Latina actresses.

But it’s not all bad news! There’s been some progress made. For example, at the New York Times Book Review, 52% of reviews in 2014 were written by women. At the Chicago Sun-Times, 54% of the bylines were female, and 53% of contributors to the Huffington Post are women. And in the top grossing films of 2013, the number of movies in which teen girls were hyper-sexualized dropped from around 31% to less than 19%.

Read next: See 13 Great American Woman Suffragists

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TIME apps

Google Is Finally Making Apps for the Apple Watch

Apple Debuts New Watch
Stephen Lam—Getty Images The new Apple Watch is seen on display after an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

A news app shows the company won't ignore Apple's device completely

The Apple Watch has added a big new addition to its app developer ranks.

Google released its first app for Apple’s new wearable on Tuesday. Google News & Weather, which was previously available for smartphones, will now allow users to get a quick summary of news headlines from the Apple Watch screen. According a TechCrunch hands-on, the app presents about a dozen headlines with an accompanying photo for each, organized around topics like sports and fashion.

However, users can’t click through to read the entire or article or easily send the content to their phones. There’s also no weather functionality as of yet.

Despite the barebones approach, the app is a signal that Google may eventually roll out some of its more robust apps on Apple’s new device. Google has its own smartwatch platform, Android Wear, that predates Apple Watch. But with the Apple Watch having sold more units on its first day available for pre-order than Android Wear watches sold in all of 2014, according to one estimate, Google may be willing to go where the users are, even if it’s not their own device.

The search giant implements a similar strategy in areas like phones and set-top boxes, where it has well-supported apps for the iPhone and Apple TV.

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