TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 18

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

1. By breaking with the Cuba lobby, President Obama could massively disrupt American interest group politics.

By Noah Feldman in the Salt Lake Tribune

2. Sony can take a stand against the hackers whose threats have forced them to pull “The Interview” by giving the movie away online.

By Bryan Bishop in the Verge

3. Could the West help save the ruble without throwing Putin a lifeline?

By Juliet Johnson in the Globe and Mail

4. By tracking rising global temperatures, satellites can predict cholera risk.

By Dr. Kiki Sanford in BoingBoing

5. After the Taliban’s shocking attack on a school in Pakistan, the military there understands “the Frankenstein that it helped to create must now be killed.”

By Peter Bergen at CNN

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.


The Most Powerful Protest Photos of 2014

There wasn't a corner of the planet untouched by protest this year, from the tear-gassed streets of Ferguson to the student camps of Hong Kong

In 2011, TIME named the Protester as the Person of the Year, in recognition of the twin people-power earthquakes of the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. TIME named the Ebola Fighters as the 2014 Person of the Year, but you could have forgiven if we went back to the Protester. There wasn’t a corner of the planet untouched by protest this year, from the tear-gassed streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to the squares of Mexico City, to the impromptu student camps of Hong Kong. Many of the protests were remarkably peaceful, like Occupy Hong Kong, which was galvanized by public anger over the overreaction of the city’s police. Others turned bloody, like the Euromaidan protests in Kiev, Ukraine, which eventually brought down the government of pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, in turn triggering a war that led to the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in May and the deaths of thousands of Ukrainians.

Not every protest was as effective as those that began the year in the cold of Kiev. Hong Kongers still don’t have full democratic rights, gay rights are on the retreat in much of east Africa and every day seems to bring news of another questionable police killing in the U.S. But the wave of social action that ended 2014 is unlikely to crest in 2015. The ubiquity of camera phones means no shortage of iconic photographs and videos from any protest, whether in Lima or Los Angeles, and social media gives everyone the means to broadcast. What follows are some of the most powerful images from the global streets in 2014.

TIME Ukraine

As Ukraine Truce Holds, Russia Vows Economic Pain

Petro Poroshenko
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko walks along the World War I Honour Roll during his visit to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia, Dec. 12, 2014. Lukas Coch—AP

The Kremlin wants to maintain leverage over its neighbor as a means of keeping it from ever joining NATO

(KIEV, UKRAINE) — Fighting in eastern Ukraine between government troops and Russian-backed separatist forces has ground almost to halt. That should be good news for Ukraine, but Russia looks intent to pile on the economic misery.

In a detailed op-ed piece Monday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev painted a grim forecast of Russian economic blockades ahead as Ukraine embarks on closer integration with Europe.

“The Ukrainian government has made its choice. And even if our neighbors have a poor understanding of the ultimate price they will have to pay, that is their right,” Medvedev said.

Those ominous words came as a renewed truce in east Ukraine called for by President Petro Poroshenko isholding — barring sporadic violations — since it began last week.

More than 4,700 people have been killed since the conflict broke out in mid-April, U.N. rights investigators estimate — and more than a quarter of those deaths came after a cease-fire in September that was routinely ignored.

Ukrainian authorities are hopeful, saying more peace talks are on the horizon.

The intensity of attacks on government-held areas has reduced notably and is now limited to mortar and small arms fire, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Monday. Separatists who have often accused government forces of breaking the truce agreed that violence has reduced dramatically.

Changes on the ground appear to reflect shifts on the diplomatic front.

While supporting the separatists, Moscow has said it accepts the rebellious east should remain part of Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the state news agency RIA-Novosti last week that pro-Russian separatists were prepared to re-enter a “common economic, humanitarian and political space” withUkraine.

That position reflects the Kremlin’s desire to maintain leverage over its neighbor as a means of keeping it from ever joining NATO.

Although the separatist leadership in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions publicly deny that they taking orders from Moscow, rebel officials privately concede the Kremlin plays a direct role in their decision-making. Lavrov’s comments suggest an easing of staunch secessionist positions.

A few weeks ago, rebel leaders were vowing to expand the territory under their control. But last week, separatists in Luhansk made a show of withdrawing heavy weaponry from the front line.

The next expected development is a prisoner exchange, which a senior rebel leader in Donetsk, Alexander Khodakovsky, suggested Monday could begin on Dec. 25.

Poroshenko has expressed satisfaction with the reduced carnage.

“I positively assess the cease-fire regime. This has enabled the strengthening of Ukrainian positions and resupply of servicemen on the line of defense,” he said.

But peace on the military front may serve only as prelude to economic hostility.

In his 5,600-word opinion piece Monday in the Moscow-based newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Medvedev outlined a new “pragmatic” chapter in relations with Ukraine.

“In plain Russian, dealing with Ukraine ‘pragmatically’ means giving it no quarter. Russia’s economicapproach to Ukraine will get tougher,” Dmitry Trenin, who heads the Carnegie Moscow Center, wrote in a Twitter post.

Medvedev wrote that Ukraine has been unhealthily reliant on Moscow for too long; adding that as of last spring, Russian orders from Ukrainian companies were valued at $15 billion, or 8.3 percent of Ukraine’sGross Domestic Product.

“Nobody in Ukraine has explained to us, or themselves, how these orders will be replaced,” he wrote.

Ukraine remains heavily dependent on Russian natural gas and industries in eastern Ukraine are still tightly intertwined with those in western Russia. Ukraine has had to go cap in hand to Russia recently for electricity supplies, as its power plants lack enough coal.

Medvedev also said a closer eye will be paid to Ukrainian citizens traveling to Russia for work — an ominous suggestion that this economic lifeline could be drastically tightened.

Ukrainian officials have put a brave face on those veiled threats.

“Everything that was possible to cut off has already been cut off by Russia,” said Valeriy Chaliy, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration.

He said Ukraine has been pressing hard to diversify the markets for its exports.

“Not all roads lead to Russia,” Chaliy said. “Ukraine has other neighbors with which collaboration is possible without fear of getting stabbed in the back at any moment.”

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Poroshenko on Monday to discuss “Ukraine’s financial and energy situation and developments in eastern Ukraine,” according to a readout released by Biden’s office.

Biden said the United States remains committed to working with international partners “to ensure thatUkraine will have the macroeconomic support it needs” to implement its reform program.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: December 12

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Gorbachev Wary of ‘New Cold War’

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev tells TIME that the U.S. is to blame for starting a “new Cold War” with Russia and that President Vladimir Putin shouldn’t back down. “I learned that you can listen to the Americans, but you cannot trust them”

Congress Avoids Shutdown

Congress narrowly averted a government shutdown on Thursday night, squeaking through a $1.1 trillion spending bill with only hours to spare

CIA Chief Defends Agency

CIA Director John Brennan defended his agency from a sharply critical Senate report into its post-9/11 detention and interrogations

How Ridley Scott’s Exodus Strays From the Bible

The Biblical story of Exodus hits the big screen on Friday with the release of Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings. Like any retelling of a classic, Scott’s blockbuster invites questions about the tale’s origin and meaning

Storm Hitting California May Be Worst in 5 Years

A storm described as perhaps the strongest to hit California in five years barreled in from the Pacific Ocean on Thursday and hammered the state with all manner of weather misery — hurricane-force winds, sheets of rain and heavy snow in the mountains

DOJ Allows Native American Tribes to Grow, Sell Marijuana

The U.S. Justice Department announced that Native American tribes would be allowed to grow and sell marijuana on their sovereign lands if they abide by the federal statutes laid out for the states that have already legalized the drug

Pope Francis Says There’s a Place for Pets in Paradise

Pope Francis confirmed during his weekly address in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square that canines, along with “all of God’s creatures,” can make it to heaven. “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ,” he said

Drug-Resistant Superbugs Could Kill 10 Million By 2050

Rising rates of drug-resistant infections could lead to the death of some 10 million people and cost some $100 trillion in 2050, according to a new report which called for “coherent international action” to regulate antibiotic use in humans, animals and the environment

Shonda Rhimes Slams ‘Racist’ Leaked Sony Emails

Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, took to Twitter on Thursday to condemn an email exchange between a Sony Pictures executive and an Oscar-winning producer that was leaked during the recent hack

Keira Knightley Is Expecting Her First Child

Just a day after Keira Knightley nabbed two big acting nominations, the star has more happy news: she is about three months pregnant. Knightley, 29, is expecting her first child with husband James Righton, of the Klaxons, whom she married last year

No Casualties in Ukraine Truce

A tentative truce between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine has resulted in the first 24 hours free from deaths and injuries since a civil conflict began in February, the Ukrainian President said on Friday

NYC Cops Want More Tasers

Law-enforcement experts are skeptical that a move to get 450 more Tasers on the street will address use-of-force concerns that have buffeted the NYPD. The talk of Tasers comes amid incidents that have put city cops under scrutiny for their use of force

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TIME Ukraine

‘Fragile’ Ukraine Truce Leads to First Casualty-Free Day

Petro Poroshenko
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko places a poppy in the World War I Honour Roll during a visit to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on Dec. 12, 2014 Jason Reed—AP

The Ukrainian President called for a long-standing truce after a cease-fire signed in September failed

A tentative truce between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine has resulted in the first 24 hours free from deaths and injuries since a civil conflict began in February, the Ukrainian President said Friday.

The cease-fire began on Tuesday after President Petro Poroshenko called for a “day of silence,” the Associated Press reports.

“This is only 24 hours — everything is so fragile,” he said. “But I pray that we should continue this process. And if we will be united, we will win, no doubt.”

The Ukrainian President made the comments during a three-day visit to Australia.

More then 4,300 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in the conflict.


TIME Photojournalism Links

Photojournalism Daily: Dec. 10, 2014

A compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Kirsten Luce‘s work on vigilante justice in Guerrero, Mexico. The southern Mexican state has been in the news recently after the disappearance of 43 students, who were allegedly rounded up by police and killed by drug gangs. Guerrero is a poor region with the highest homicide rate in Mexico. In the worst areas, civilians have banded together to create self-defense groups called “autodefensas” to protect their communities from cartel related violence. One of the driving forces behind the autodefensas is the perceived lack of help from local, state and federal authorities. While not recent, Luce’s photographs from Ayutla de los Libres offer a compelling look at citizens taking the law into their own hands.

Kirsten Luce: Vigilante Justice in the Heart of Southern Mexico’s Drug War (The Washington Post In Sight)

Meridith Kohut: Vegetable Spawns Larceny and Luxury in Peru (The New York Times) These photographs show how a Peruvian vegetable, maca, and its growing demand is creating havoc in the farming communities.

Peter van Agtmael: The Art of Partying: Art Basel in Miami (MSNBC) The Magnum photographer looks at the party-happy art crowd in Miami.

TIME’s Best Photojournalism of 2014 (TIME LightBox) Collection of great photojournalism that has appeared in print and online during the past 12 months, by photographers such as James Nachtwey, Lynsey Addario, Yuri Kozyrev and others.

Anastasia Taylor-Lind: Fighters and Mourners of the Ukrainian Revolution (TED) Powerful TED talk by the British-Swedish photographer on her portraits from the Maidan square in Kiev.


Morning Must Reads: December 9

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Exclusive: Putin Cut Ukraine Criticism From Speech Ahead of Peace Talks

Russia’s President apparently cut out a blistering critique of Ukrainian authorities from a Dec. 5 speech just moments before delivery, TIME’s Simon Shuster reports, as his position on the conflict with his country’s neighbor softens ahead of the next round of peace talks

How Sharing Your Health Data Could Change Medical Research

A slew of companies and organizations promise to tear down barriers to data collection and sharing by encouraging patients to give away their information

Senate to Release Torture Report

The report, expected on Tuesday, will shed light on the CIA’s use of so-called “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” in the years after 9/11

President Obama Gets Personal With Stephen Colbert

Obama took his first and final turn on the Colbert Report Monday night, fending off verbal assaults from the faux-conservative comedian. The appearance on the satirical show was partly meant to highlight the ongoing open enrollment for health insurance in 2015

Second Nor’easter Is Coming

A second nor’easter in two weeks will slug the Interstate 95 corridor starting Tuesday, prompting winter storm watches and warnings in six states. The storm is expected to arrive with strong winds and 2 in. of rain from Maine to New Jersey

Prince William and Kate Just Met Beyoncé and Jay Z

The momentous encounter took place Monday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where both couples watched the Brooklyn Nets play the Cleveland Cavaliers, which meant LeBron James was also in the same room. The royal couples had courtside seats, and sat across from each other

New Batch of Ferguson Grand Jury Documents Released

Bob McCulloch, the prosecutor who oversaw the Ferguson police shooting inquiry, has released additional grand jury documents after not including a law-enforcement interview with a key witness in the initial public release of evidence

Portland Tells Uber to Stop Operating

The City of Portland filed a lawsuit against Uber on Monday, alleging that the ride-sharing service broke local codes. Officials said Uber was “in violation of the City of Portland’s Private for Hire Transportation Regulations,” in a suit just three days after Uber’s Portland launch

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus Set for Re-Election Bid

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus formally declared his bid for a third two-year term on Monday evening in an email to members. “With such support it is impossible for me to say no,” Priebus wrote to members of the committee

Sierra Leone Has Highest Number of Ebola Cases

Sierra Leone has surpassed Liberia as the country with the highest number of Ebola cases, according to the most recent World Health Organization statistics. The WHO said transmission of the virus was “intense” in Sierra Leone

Malaria Deaths Nearly Halved Since 2000

According to the World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report 2014, the mortality rate decreased by 47% worldwide since 2000, and the number of infections went from 173 million the same year to 128 million in 2013

Actor Who Played The Addams Family Son Has Died

Ken Weatherwax, who played the Addams Family’s pudgy, cake-loving son, Pugsley, on the 1960s television hit, died of a heart attack on Sunday. He was 59. The actor was best known for his memorable role in the cult series, but later said the part stymied his acting career

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TIME Ukraine

Ukrainian Prime Minister Announces Accident at Nuclear Power Plant

Energy minister will reveal more at press conference

The Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk announced Wednesday that an accident had taken place at the Zaporizhye nuclear power plant (NPP) in South-East Ukraine.

“I know that an accident has occurred at the Zaporizhye NPP,” Yatseniuk said, asking new energy minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn to make clear when the problem would be resolved and what steps would be taken to restore normal power supply across Ukraine.

As a result of the accident, homes in South-East Ukraine and Crimea were experiencing power cuts.



Morning Must Reads: December 2

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Obama Calls for Police Body Cameras After Ferguson

President Obama has proposed new funding for police body cameras and training with military equipment to address the widening gap between police and minority communities following the police shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown

Colleges Burden Poorest Students

University students at the lowest income level were hit with the highest price increases, even at some of America’s wealthiest institutions

ISIS May Target Military at Home

Homeland Security officials issued their strongest warning yet that American service members may be targeted in the U.S. by the militant group ISIS

Watch George Clooney Star in Downton Abbey Short

The Hollywood actor has at last made his Downton Abbey debut in a brief teaser clip for a charity film which will air during the holidays on British TV. Speculation still remains about what role Clooney will take on in the film

Ukraine Government, Rebels Agree on New Cease-Fire

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said that under the agreement, hostilities are to cease Friday along the line of contact between the warring sides, and heavy weapons will start being withdrawn from the front at the weekend

U.S. Drug-Overdose Deaths Spike

U.S. drug-overdose fatalities more than doubled from 1999 to 2012, according to a new CDC report. New data shows overdose deaths from drugs like painkillers and heroin have risen from 6.1 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 13.1 in 2012

Wife of ISIS Leader Detained in Lebanon

Lebanese officials say authorities have detained a wife and son of the leader of the Islamic State group after they attempted to use fake identification cards. A local report said that the arrest was in “coordination with foreign intelligence agencies”

Janice Dickinson Discusses Allegations Against Bill Cosby

Janice Dickinson is one of the dozen or so women who have come forward to accuse comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault. During a recent interview, the former supermodel broke down while talking about how the alleged rape has affected her

NFL Won’t Discipline Players for Gesture

The NFL will not punish St. Louis Rams players for their “hands up, don’t shoot” gestures made during introductions before Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders. The posture mirrored those made by protesters in Ferguson and throughout the U.S.

Hong Kong Top Leader Says Hunger Strike Is Futile

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has told leaders of the city’s pro-democracy demonstrations who say they are now on hunger strike that their efforts are “futile,” but that he hopes they stay safe

Judge Overturns Conviction Against Ex-Virginia First Lady

A federal judge on Monday overturned one graft related conviction against Maureen McDonnell, the wife of the former Virginia governor, but allowed all other convictions against the two to stand. Her husband Bob McDonnell was convicted on 11 counts

Birdman Wins Big at Gotham Independent Film Awards

The 2014 Gotham Independent Film Awards wrapped up in New York City on Monday night, with Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s dark comedy Birdman winning best feature. Hollywood’s awards season has officially kicked off

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Ukraine Government, Rebels Agree on New Cease-Fire

A Ukrainian serviceman patrols the center of Trehizbenka village, controlled by Ukrainian government forces, in Luhansk region eastern Ukraine, Nov. 23, 2014. Evgeniy Maloletka—AP

Under the agreement, hostilities are to cease Friday

(KIEV, Ukraine) — Ukrainian government troops and Russian-backed separatist forces in the Luhansk region have agreed on a new cease-fire, international monitors said.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said that under the agreement, hostilities are to cease Friday along the line of contact between the warring sides.

It was agreed at negotiations that took place Saturday that heavy weapons will start being withdrawn from the front at the weekend, the OSCE said in its daily update report Monday evening.

Igor Plotnitsky, the head of the rebel movement in Luhansk, confirmed the cease-fire deal in remarks to Russia’s Interfax news agency, but said no definitive agreement had been reached on the breadth of the demilitarized zone.

He told Interfax the distance could range between 15 and 20 kilometers (10 and 13 miles).

Cease-fire deals have been reached before in eastern Ukraine, only to be swiftly violated. A broad truce was agreed upon in early September after all-party talks in Belarus, but hundreds have been killed since then amid daily violations.

On Monday, a deal was reached to end fighting over the airport in the capital of the Donetsk region, but rocket barrages continued for hours in that area all the same.

There are concerns that any efforts to impose a cease-fire in the Luhansk region could be derailed by infighting among separatist forces.

Although rebel areas are nominally under the control of the self-styled Luhansk People’s Republic, much of the territory is in fact presided over by Russian Cossacks, who have frequently demonstratively rejected Plotnitsky’s authority.

There have been multiple unconfirmed media reports in recent days of fatal clashes between fighters of the Luhansk People’s Republic and Cossack units.

The OSCE said in its report Monday, however, that the Luhansk People’s Republic insists it is in control of all Cossack units.

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