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TIME’s Best Portraits of 2014

TIME looks back on a year in portraiture

We know them as head of states, movie stars or athletes. They are forward-thinking, rebellious or controversial. They lead us or challenge us. Yet, behind their extraordinary auras and personalities, they are human beings like the rest of us.

This year, as TIME reinforced its legacy of strong visual storytelling, these newsmakers reveled in the flashes of the magazine’s photographers. From Marco Grob’s playful portrait of Seth Meyer to Yuri Kozyrev’s powerful – and exclusive – shoot with Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of the Pussy Riots, TIME’s commissioned photographers crisscrossed the world to meet with the world’s most influential personalities; culminating in an unprecedented four-country, 12-city photo shoot by Jackie Nickerson and Bryan Schutmaat with TIME’s Person of the Year – the Ebola Fighters.


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 Culture

Navajos Buy Back Artifacts at Disputed Auction

France Artifacts Auction
Native American Navajo Nation Vice president, Rex Lee Jim, poses for the media outside of the Drouot's auction house prior to the contested auction of Native American Navajo tribe masks in Paris, Dec. 15, 2014. Francois Mori—AP

The objects for sale included religious masks, dozens of Hopi kachina dolls and several striking Pueblo masks embellished with horse hair, bone and feathers

(PARIS)— When diplomacy and a plea to return sacred ceremonial masks to an American Indian tribe in the United States failed, officials from the Navajo Nation traveled to the Paris auction house selling the items and started bidding for them.

They fended off a French art collector Monday, winning seven masks for more than $9,000. Navajo Vice President Rex Lee Jim said the Navajo delegation was unable to determine the exact provenance of the artifacts but said they had to face the reality of the auction and buy them.

“They are sacred masks … and unfortunately they end up here. Whether that is legal or illegal … we don’t know,” said Jim, a medicine man who offered prayers to the masks that embody Navajo deities. “What we do know is that they are for sale.”

The Navajo Nation took a different approach than its Hopi neighbor in northeastern Arizona, which has seen losses of ceremonial items at auctions in France that were deemed legal to private collectors.

The objects for sale at the Drouot auction house included religious masks, colored in pigment, that are believed to be used in Navajo wintertime healing ceremonies. It also included dozens of Hopi kachina dolls and several striking Pueblo masks embellished with horse hair, bone and feathers, thought to be from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The U.S. Embassy in Paris asked Drouot to suspend the sale to allow Navajo and Hopi representatives to determine if they were stolen from the tribes. But Drouot refused, arguing that the auction was in accordance with the law — and that a French tribunal had previously ruled that a similar sale was legal.

Sales from the auction totaled 929,000 euros ($1.12 million).

The Hopi saw the sale as sacrilege and did not travel to Paris for the auction, said Pierre Schreiber, a lawyer representing the tribe. Only a member of the tribe has the right to possess the items that represent the spirits of their ancestors, tribal officials have argued.

“Hopis were opposed to buying back their artifacts as they did not want to engage in the auction,” Servan-Schreiber said.

Hopi Chairman Herman Honanie said he was appalled by the latest sale.

The Navajo Nation delegation was authorized to spend up to $20,000 to retrieve the masks that typically are disassembled after a nine-day ceremony and returned to the earth, said Deswood Tome, a spokesman for the tribe.

Jim said the objects were not art but “living and breathing beings” that should not be traded commercially. He was set to return to the United States on Tuesday, with the masks to be shipped later to the tribe.

French art collector Armand Hui bid for several masks at the auction but told The Associated Press hebacked down when he saw that tribal members had come in person to buy them.

“I wanted to respect that,” he said.

Tome said it would incumbent upon the leaders of the Navajo and Hopi tribes to discuss how to approach any future sales of sacred items in foreign countries.

“If there are religious items that are sacred in the future, the leadership will have to determine what steps they will take,” said Tome. “Buying these masks here today is a precedent that we’ve set.”

The Associated Press is not transmitting images of the objects because both the Navajo and Hopi have strict rules against recording and photographing ceremonies featuring the items that otherwise are kept entirely out of public view. The Navajo Nation initially included a photo of the masks in a news release but later replaced the photo with one of Jim, saying it was a mistake. The Hopi tribe considers it sacrilegious for any of the images of the objects to appear.

TIME Immigration

Largest U.S. Detention Center for Immigrant Families Opens in Texas

The South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley can house up to 2,400 people

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson opened on Monday what is being labeled the U.S.’ largest detention center for families who enter the country illegally.

The South Texas Family Residential Center, located on the grounds of a former camp for oil workers in Dilley, Texas, can house up to 2,400 people and will primarily be used for women and children, according to Reuters. It features dozens of small cabins to accommodate detained families along with medical facilities, a school and a playground.

The facility will mainly be managed by the Corrections Corporation of America and cost $296 per person per day to operate, according to an official from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency who attended the opening.

Johnson made use of the occasion to lambast Republicans in Congress for not fully funding the department he oversees. “If Congress is interested with me in supporting the border security measure we are outlining here today,” Johnson added, “it should act immediately on our budget request for fiscal 2015.”




Court Rules Porn Actors in L.A. Must Wear Condoms

Despite industry pushback

Actors in pornographic films shot in Los Angeles must wear condoms while filming sex scenes, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, despite pushback from the multibillion-dollar industry.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a measure approved by Los Angeles County residents in 2012 — which mandated condoms during sex scenes and which industry lawyers claimed was a violation of the actors’ right to free expression — aided in the County’s bid to reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases while still allowing for “adequate alternative means of expression,” Reuters reports. A lower court had previously upheld the law.

The 2012 measure also required that adult film actors be regularly tested for STDs; the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has previously said they are 10 times more likely than the general public to contract one.


TIME celebrities

Camille Cosby Forcefully Defends Her Husband

Apollo Theater 75th Anniversary Gala - Arrivals
Camille Cosby attends the Apollo Theater 75th Anniversary Gala at The Apollo Theater on June 8, 2009 in New York City. Bryan Bedder—Getty Images

Wife of Bill Cosby addresses sexual assault allegations against him

The wife of Bill Cosby fiercely defended her husband in a statement Monday as outrage continues to mount over accusations that he drugged and raped multiple women throughout his career.

Camille Cosby, who has largely remained silent on the allegations, released a letter that compared the accusations against the actor and comedian to Rolling Stone‘s explosive story of an alleged rape at the University of Virginia. Discrepancies that emerged after publication of that story cast doubt on the accuracy of the piece.

“The story was devastating, but ultimately appears to be proved to be untrue,” she writes in the comparison. “None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim,” she adds. “But the question should be asked — who is the victim?”

The entertainer has faced accusations of sexual assault from more than a dozen women and has largely declined to address the claims. In a recent interview with the New York Post, he praised his wife and admitted that his public relations representatives “don’t want me talking to the media.”

TIME Crime

Mother of Cleveland Boy Killed by Police Says He Never Had a Chance

Samaria Rice
Samaria Rice during an interview with The Associated Press on Dec. 15, 2014 in New York. Mark Lennihan—AP

Samaria Rice said her son, Tamir, was shot before he could comply with police

(NEW YORK) — The mother of a 12-year-old Ohio boy fatally shot by police who believed he was carrying a gun said Monday he was never given a chance to follow officers’ orders.

Samaria Rice said in an interview at The Associated Press offices in New York that her son, Tamir Rice, was shot before he could comply with police who pulled up next to him on a Cleveland playground. A rookie officer fired within 2 seconds.

Tamir had an airsoft gun, which shoots nonlethal plastic pellets.

Rice said she wants the officer charged with murder and she called on authorities to make sure young officers don’t “ignore the training.”

Police say officers were responding to a call Nov. 22 about someone possibly carrying a gun. They say Tamir didn’t respond to commands to raise his hands before Officer Timothy Loehmann fired his weapon. The officers also meant to stop the patrol car farther from Tamir but the vehicle slid on the grass, the Cleveland police union has said.

Rice said she found out later that Tamir was handed the fake weapon by a girl at the playground. She said police put Tamir’s 14-year-old sister in handcuffs as she rushed to help her mortally wounded brother that day.

Rice’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, said in the AP interview that the two officers could have defused the situation — by talking to the boy from a distance instead of pulling up next to him on the grass and firing.

An internal Cleveland police investigation is underway and the results will be turned over to the local prosecutor, who will present them to a grand jury. The fatal encounter was caught on surveillance video.

Clutching Crump’s hand, the teary-eyed mother said Monday she knew exactly where her son had gone before the shooting. After she made lunch for him, he went to a recreation center across the street from their home then to the playground that is steps away from his school. His 14-year-old sister was with him, their mother said, “and I told them to stick together and be safe.”

The sister had gone to the bathroom when she heard a shot. Meanwhile, just after 3 p.m. that day, the mother heard a knock on her door.

“Two little boys came and knocked on my door and said, ‘The police just shot your son twice in the stomach,'” she recalled Monday.

When she got to the scene, following her 16-year-old son, she saw him being held against the police car, with officers surrounding him while Tamir lay on the ground, she said. Tamir’s sister was in the back of the cruiser, their mother said.

Rice said that when she tried to get close to her bleeding son, officers “pushed me back, telling me to chill out or they were going to put me in the police car.”

Rice, who is black, said she long ago had “The Talk” with her children — as black parents call warnings to their children to comply with police or risk danger.

“My kids already know that they are supposed to cooperate with authority, period,” she said.

She said her son was talented in sports and the arts and was loved in their community as someone who helped others.

“All lives matter, I don’t see any color. I see boys,” she said.

TIME Environment

Seattle Nonprofit Group Advocates for Composting of Human Remains

The process requires no toxic embalming

People may soon have a new option for how they want to be laid to rest, if one Seattle-area nonprofit gets its way.

The Urban Death Project, a nonprofit group founded in 2011 by architect Katrina Spade, proposes human composting as an alternative to human burial, which requires overcrowded, unsustainable cemeteries, Reuter reports. UDP’s plan is to build a large concrete composting facility in Seattle for human remains, peppered with places of reflection for visitors. Following a ceremony, bodies would be laid in the composting structure, and several weeks later, the remains would be enough to plant a tree or a bed of flowers.

“The idea is to fold the dead back into the city,” she told Reuters. “The options we currently have for our bodies are lacking, both from an environmental standpoint, but also, and perhaps more importantly, from a meaning standpoint.”

Composting bodies would also require no embalming, since decomposition is the goal.

But the idea hasn’t gotten off the ground—or into the ground—quite yet. In addition to getting a funeral home license, Urban Death Project faces zoning challenges that regulate composting. And recycling human remains isn’t an accepted mode of body disposal yet. For the project to work, Washington state law, which requires corpses to be buried, cremated, donated to science or transferred from the state, would have to change, Reuters reports.

“There will be some regulatory work to do, but I’m confident,” Spade told Reuters. “People want this option.”


TIME States

Cow in Idaho Escapes Slaughter Only to Be Killed by Police

The cow escaped a meat processing business and jumped a six-foot fence

(POCATELLO, Idaho) — A 1,000-pound cow being prepared for slaughter jumped a 6-foot fence and bolted through the streets of Pocatello before police shot and killed it following a lengthy pursuit.

Pocatello Police Chief Scott Marchand tells the Idaho State Journal (http://bit.ly/1DtMaME) that his officers fired two shots at the heifer because it posed a safety risk.

The cow had escaped from Anderson Custom Pack, a meat processing business, on Friday afternoon.

Early in the chase, an officer shot the cow in the head but the wounded animal kept running.

The cow led police and animal control officers on a chase on foot and in vehicles through the city’s north side. It rammed an animal control truck and two police cars.

The animal was eventually cornered in a residential backyard about 3 miles away, and was shot and killed by a police officer.

TIME Crime

Study: Alcatraz Prison Break 50 Years Ago Could Have Succeeded

The group of inmates could have landed just north of the Golden Gate Bridge

Three Alcatraz inmates tried to leave the historically inescapable island prison on a raft fashioned of raincoats more than 50 years ago and were never seen again. Many assumed the group perished in the frigid waters of the Pacific Ocean, but a new study shows how they might have survived.

The study, conducted by a group of Dutch researchers, uses an interactive model to show where the 1962 jailbreakers might have landed if they departed at the right time and under the right conditions. In the absolute best-case scenario, the group would have landed just north of the Golden Gate Bridge and escaped into Marin County.

But the group also could have drifted out into the Pacific Ocean or eastward into the San Francisco Bay. In either case, their chances of survival would have practically zero given the cold temperatures on the water.

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