TIME Foreign Policy

Bush Commerce Secretary Says Obama Gave Cuba ‘a Major Political Win’

The 1st China Conference Of Quality
Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez gives a speech during the opening session of the 1st China Conference of Quality at The Great Hall Of The People on Sept. 15, 2014 in Beijing. Feng Li—Getty Images

"The U.S. has given so many concessions and not received anything in return," Carlos Gutierrez tells TIME

Former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez told TIME Thursday that the U.S. “will have egg on our face” following President Barack Obama’s move to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time in half-a-century. Gutierrez, a Cuban-born former Kellogg CEO who worked in the administration of President George W. Bush, is now a consultant at the Albright Stonebridge Group.

Here’s his Q&A with TIME, lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

How much flexibility will businesses have if Congress doesn’t actually act to lift the embargo?

How much flexibility there will be for U.S. businesses will depend on how much flexibility the Cuban regime gives to U.S. businesses. That’s the aspect of this that has brought down these agreements. At the end of day, if the Cubans don’t change regulations to allow businesses to go in, invest, and make money [there is not much they can do]. There is talk about opening the Internet, but Cuba is one of most closed Internet countries in world. We have to see this with a certain amount of skepticism that they really are going to allow citizens to have Internet.

Read more: How Pope Francis helped broker the Cuba deal

There’s always been exception [in the embargo law] to be able to do commerce in the telecommunications industry because communications inside the island and communications outside island can only be a benefit. That’s the rationale. But the roaming rates are outrageously high. Who is able to buy a cell phone in Cuba is a matter of public policy, and there are very strict laws, so you know, what we haven’t seen is what the Cuban government is going to do.

This has been a very lopsided agreement, and I can tell you that the Cubans today feel that they have had a major victory. This is a major political win for Raúl Castro; the fact that we recognize them diplomatically is a major political win. They are going to go to Summit of the Americas [in Panama in April], and Raúl Castro will be the man of the hour. President Obama will be comfortable, with the Latinos cheering him on, but the real test really happens after the summit, and the standing of the U.S. in the hemisphere after the U.S. has given so many concessions and not received anything in return.

Which industries are likely to take advantage of loosened restrictions?

Theoretically, the telecommunications industry, to some extent the agriculture industry, to some extent the pharmaceutical industry. The extent to which they will take advantage of this will rely on the good will of the Cubans. Business will only succeed if the Cubans want business to succeed, and everything we have seen from the Cubans over the last 50 years is that they will not allow business to succeed. Why is it different this time? They need to demonstrate that it is different.

What impact will this have on the Cuban economy?

It has some benefit in that the amount of remittances has increased. What we need to remember is that the average Cuban gets paid $20 a month. A rationing card for 30 days only lasts 17 days. The Cuban government has total control. If they let U.S. businesses, let telecommunications, and let credit card companies set up shop freely, the government will lose control. You can use your credit card Cuba, but the banks have to set up inside Cuban banks, and there will probably be a fee that goes to the Cuban government. All of these things are designed to strengthen the government’s hold on the economy, and history suggests that they will not give up an ounce of control.

Will this have any impact on the U.S. economy?

Cuba is an extremely poor country. It is not as if a McDonalds is going to open in three weeks, or we are going to start exporting cars. It doesn’t work like that. People say, now in Cuba you can buy a car and that shows it has opened up, but a car costs $50,000 in Cuba, that’s a heck of a price if you make $20 a month. The big risk here is for President Obama. The Cubans know this agreement can be derailed easily in the U.S. because of politics and because of Congressional intervention. The moment that happens, it is an excuse to blame the U.S. In the meantime, the Cuban government has pocketed all of the concessions. They have been victorious, and they will move on to have the same type of regime they have today, and we will have egg on our face way that President Carter did and other presidents have. That’s the thing to watch, that’s thing to stay close to and not believe that somehow magically Cuba is changing.

TIME Crime

3 New Sexual Assault Allegations at Princeton

Amid growing scrutiny into how schools handle it

Three new sexual assaults were reported over the weekend to Princeton University police, at a time when colleges and universities are under increasing national scrutiny for how they handle sexual assault allegations.

Two of the incidents were reported on Friday and one on Saturday, the Times of Trenton reports. Two of the reported incidents—both involving unwanted fondling—allegedly occurred over the last month at eating clubs, co-ed social clubs at Princeton. The third report alleged sexual activity while incapacitated during the 2012-2013 school year.

Reporting of sexual assault is generally considered a good sign because it indicates that the culture at an institution makes victims feel safe to report. Raising reporting has been one of the signature goals of the federal-government’s months-long initiative to improve the handling of sexual assaults on campus.

MORE: The sexual assault crisis on America’s campuses

Princeton has made a number of changes to its handling of sexual assault cases over the last several months, in response to a federal inquiry. It’s unclear if those changes played any role in empowering students to come forward.

In September, under pressure from the federal government, Princeton became the last Ivy League school to lower its standard of proof for sexual assault violations. Following that decision, the school reached a settlement agreement with the federal government ending an investigation into Princeton’s handling of sexual assault. In December, two student officers were stripped of their titles at the Princeton eating club Tiger Inn, after they sent emails ridiculing women including one that contained a sexually explicit photograph.

 

TIME Research

Why It’s Bad News That Some Teens Are Choosing E-Cigs Over Real Cigarettes

Tobacco smoking among teens is down nationwide

Fewer teens in the United States are smoking regular cigarettes, according to the results of a federally funded survey released Tuesday, but the popularity of electronic cigarettes suggests that some teens may be choosing e-cigs over traditional smokes.

Daily smoking among teenagers in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades has been cut almost in half in the last five years, according to data from the annual “Monitoring the Future Survey.” Gathered from more than 40,000 kids in 377 public and private schools nationwide by researchers at the University of Michigan, the data also shows that more than one in six high school seniors, and almost as many sophomores, used electronic cigarettes in the last month.

MORE: E-cigs Are the New Cool Thing for Teenagers

“It is very possible that [electronic cigarettes] could account for some of the decrease in tobacco smoking — that kids that would otherwise start with tobacco cigarettes start by vaping,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “We are facing a completely new pattern of administering drugs.”

The data offers one possible explanation for why high schoolers are so willing to use electronic cigarettes: They think they’re safer. Just over 50% of 10th graders surveyed believed that smoking between one and five cigarettes a day posed a great risk, while only 14% thought the same thing about regular e-cig use.

While some kids may prefer the electronic alternatives, it’s also clear that many kids like to use both, just like adults who use tobacco. Of the high school seniors who said they’d used e-cigs in the last month, more than 40% said they had also smoked a conventional cigarette in the last month, too.

MORE: The Future of Smoking

While we wait for sorely needed regulation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “there needs to be a massive educational campaign to dispel the hype and outright deception from the industry,” says Sen. Richard Blumenthal, (D-Conn.), who as Connecticut’s Attorney General fought to stop deceptive tobacco marketing to children.

“The industry is saying to teenagers that e-cigarettes are healthy and cool, that there is nothing in the vapor that could possibly harm you, and that they are a healthy alternative to cigarettes for people who want to quit,” he adds. “But in fact they may be a very unhealthy gateway to cigarette smoking for people who don’t use tobacco products now.”

Electronic cigarettes are such new products that research is inconclusive about their safety and whether they will act as a gateway to smoking for teens. Though the FDA has proposed plans to begin regulating them, the hundreds of e-cig offerings on the market are currently unchecked, leaving a wide range of safety implications depending on the product.

TIME Crime

More Tasers for New York Cops Might ‘Do More Harm Than Good’

Experts skeptical of NYPD plan

New York City cops may soon be armed with more Tasers. But experts are skeptical that will make the city safer.

Police Commissioner William Bratton announced plans Wednesday to purchase an additional 450 Tasers to give to training officers who work with rookies, the New York Daily News reports. “We are very interested in expanding [the use of Tasers] very significantly,” Bratton said, describing them as “a nonlethal method officers could use.”

The NYPD already has roughly 600 Taser guns.

“The concern with any tool is that once someone has it they may opt to use it rather than non violent strategies,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a former NYPD officer and member of de Blasio’s Public Safety transition committee. “We also need to reduce the police footprint, and this simply takes us in the direction of continuing the over-policing of America.”

The talk of Tasers comes amid incidents that have put city cops under scrutiny for their use of force. This past summer, Eric Garner was killed after an officer held him in what appeared to be a chokehold banned by the NYPD, and a recent grand jury decision not indict him ignited protests across the city. Then on Tuesday, a police officer shot and killed a mentally ill suspect wielding a knife after he stabbed a student and charged toward the police knife in hand.

“This is something we think could be a tool we use additionally that could bring us some ability to help resolve situations better,” Mayor de Blasio said in an unrelated press conference Thursday, according to a report from the Staten Island news site silive.com.

But law enforcement experts say Tasers are a mixed bag when it comes to improving safety for officers and suspects, and they may even lead to more unnecessary violence. The logic behind increasing the use of Tasers is that they give officers a non-lethal alternative to guns when they are threatened, but they may not always work that way in the field, experts say. And while it’s somewhat rare, Tasers can cause death, particularly for those suffering from heart disease.

MORE: Police body cameras poised to become standard after Ferguson

Professor Peter Moskos, an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and a former Baltimore City police officer, agreed. “Generally I’m sort of anti-taser,” he said. “They do serve a purpose. They can be used in situations in which you wouldn’t shoot someone, but there are very few cases when they are used instead of gun. The sad reality is there’s always going to be some messy situations, and the taser doesn’t fix that. By and large, in NYC, it would do more harm than good.”

Maki Haberfeld, a professor of political science at John Jay echoed the others concerns, but she took a slightly more optimistic view. “I wouldn’t like to see people Tased on a more frequent basis,” she said, adding: “I think it’s a good idea to try this. I’m always a proponent of alternatives, but it has to come with proper instruction.”

TIME Crime

These Are the Women Forgotten in the Sexual Assault Crisis

Focus on campuses obscures young women not in school

There’s a new wrinkle to the ongoing debate about campus sexual assault: Non-students are actually more likely than students to be victimized, according to new federal data.

The finding, in a Justice Department report released Thursday, comes amid a fierce focus over the last several months on campus sexual assault and the federal government’s efforts to address it. This new data indicates that just as much—if not more—needs to be done to protect young college-aged women who aren’t in school. College-aged women, whether or not they are in school are more likely to be victims of rape and sexual assault than other age groups.

“I think the data shows that all the attention to college rape over the last year has been appropriate because it’s a problem there, but it has been too narrow a focus because we want to make sure we are not leaving out the huge number of people who don’t go to college,” says Scott Berkowitz, president of Rape Abuse & Incest National Network.

MORE: The sexual assault crisis on American campuses

For the period of 1995 to 2013, non-students aged 18-24 were 1.2 times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than their student counterparts, according to the report.

The report contained other interesting findings about the similarities and differences between these two groups of victims. Students and non-students were equally likely to know their attacker (80% in both cases), but non-students were more likely to report it to the police. Eighty percent of student rapes and sexual assaults went unreported to the police compared to 67% for non-students. The finding is particularly interesting because of the debate raging among advocates, public officials and administrators over how best to involve police in campus assault.

“Much of the reform attention has been on the college judicial process,” adds Berkowitz, “but this data really points out that we cannot focus on that at expense criminal justice system, because that would mean abandoning the great many victims who never attend college.”

TIME Crime

Christian University Apologizes to Sexual Assault Victims

BOB JONES UNIVERSITY
People cross over the walkway near the fountains on the campus of Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. on March 1, 2000. Patrick Collard—AP

"We failed to uphold and honor our own core values"

A prominent Christian university in South Carolina apologized to victims of sexual assault and abuse Wednesday ahead of a report released Thursday that documented the school’s failure to adequately respond to their needs.

“On behalf of Bob Jones University, I would like to sincerely and humbly apologize to those who felt they did not receive from us genuine love, compassion, understanding, and support after suffering sexual abuse or assault,” university president Steve Pettit said in an address to students Wednesday. “We did not live up to their expectations. We failed to uphold and honor our own core values.”

MORE: The sexual assault crisis on American campuses

The apology came in advance of a 300-page report published Thursday, drawn from interviews with some 40 victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault at Bob Jones university over four decades. The report paints a picture of an administration that failed to offer them appropriate counsel, and in some instances even made them feel at fault for their abuse.

The report was conducted by an independent organization, GRACE, a non-profit Christian group dedicated to helping the Christian community respond to abuse. “This comprehensive report contains painful disclosures by sexual abuse victims and strong language when describing the impact of the institutional responses to abuse disclosures,” GRACE said.

The report comes after months of scrutiny of colleges and universities across the country, as they try to grapple with mounting calls to reform the institutional response to campus sexual assault.

 

TIME Addiction

Hawaii Teens Love Electronic Cigarettes

Popularity of a new tobacco product raises health concerns

It looks like vaping has a bright future in Hawaii.

Experimentation with electronic cigarettes among Hawaii’s high school and middle school students more than tripled from 2011-2013, according to a new state survey. Almost 8% of middle school students and 18% of high school students had tried electronic cigarettes in 2013 (up from 2% and 5%, respectively, in 2011), according to the survey of public school students by the Hawaii State Department of Health. It’s illegal in Hawaii to sell electronic cigarettes to children under the age of 18.

The latest federal data in 2012 showed that 10% teens have tried electronic cigarettes nationwide. New federal numbers on national teen use of electronic cigarettes will come out next week.

MORE: The future of smoking

Smoking of traditional cigarettes among high school students in Hawaii dropped from 2011-2013 and remained steady for Hawaii’s middle schoolers, according to the survey.

The health effects of electronic cigarettes are not well understood. Many in the health community fear that the rise in youth exposure to electronic cigarettes could re-glamorize smoking and become a gateway to traditional cigarettes. Electronic cigarette manufacturers have come under fire from Congress for marketing practices and flavors that seem geared at teens. The federal government has yet to regulate electronic cigarettes.

MORE: Electronic cigarette executives get schooled in Senate hearing

 

 

 

TIME Sexual Assault

This Is What It Looks Like When Women Come Out of the Shadows

The reason for optimism amid more reports of military sexual assault

It could be easy to get discouraged reading about the Pentagon survey Thursday that found reports of sexual assault in the American military are on the rise. But a closer look at the numbers gives reason for optimism: There are more reports of assault because more women are reporting those assaults rather than staying silent.

“This is a remarkable change in terms of victims being willing to talk to people in the military about what happened to them,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), one of the key advocates of military sexual assault reform in Washington, said Thursday afternoon at a news conference with fellow lawmakers.

Reported assaults hit 5,983 in the 2014 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, up 8% from last year and up from 3,604 in 2012. But the proportion of service members who said they were assaulted decreased by roughly 27%. Among those who were assaulted, one in four reported it, a sharp increase from one in 10 in 2012.

MORE: The sexual assault crisis on America’s campuses

Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes in the U.S. because of the stigma survivors face. Raising the rates of reporting, therefore, is a key goal as reformers look to hold perpetrators accountable and reduce the number of assaults. That was true for Congress when it passed a number of reforms to the military’s handling of sexual assault over the last several months. And the rise in reports, along with promising responses from victims about being satisfied by the way their cases were handled, indicates a shift in culture that is moving in the right direction.

The military isn’t the only institution that has seen an increased culture of reporting: higher education is moving in this direction, too. Earlier this year, a government report showed that the number of sex crimes reported by colleges themselves rose 52 percent between 2001 and 2011, with a particularly sharp rise in 2010 and 2011.

MORE: Here’s the real reason college sex reports are rising

The military report was not all good news. Reports of retaliation remained high, especially among peers, raising questions about how much better the broader culture in the military really is.

But at a moment when awareness of violence against women has hit a high water mark after highly publicized incidents on campuses, in the military, in professional sports and in Hollywood, Thursday’s news holds out promise that victims will continue to feel more empowered to come out of the shadows across the country.

TIME Drugs

This Lifesaving Heroin Overdose Drug Just Got More Expensive

Why Naloxone prices are spiking 50% or more

The heroin overdose “miracle drug” is getting more expensive again.

Police departments are seeing a spike in the cost of Naloxone, the New York Times reports, with prices jumping by 50% or more. In Georgia, police saw kits with the drug go from $22 to $40.

Naloxone has always been subject to dramatic fluctuations in price and availability, restricting access for cash-strapped community organizations who distribute the drug across the U.S. The reasons for the volatility have always been complex and frustratingly opaque. But it may be from lack of competition: Only two companies, Amphastar, which makes a nasal spray, and Hospira, which makes an injectable, manufacture the drug.

MORE: This drug can stop an overdose so why is it so hard to get?

But demand for the drug is also going up: The latest price hike coincides with the proliferation of its distribution through police forces and community health programs. New policies across the country have put the Naloxone nasal spray into the hands of police officers to administer it to people overdosing. Recently passed laws in states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina also made it possible for doctors to prescribe the drug to friends and family of those addicted to heroin and prescription painkillers. Speaking to the Times, the president of Amphastar cited rising annual manufacturing costs for the increase.

Drug overdose has steadily risen to become the leading cause of injury death in the U.S., eclipsing automobile accidents, according to government data. Getting Naloxone into the hands of more first responders has been a priority for the Obama Administration in addressing what Attorney General Eric Holder has called “an urgent public health crisis.”

MORE: Heroin’s resurgence

TIME Parenting

U.S. Birthrate Declines as American Women Wait

Portrait of woman wearing striped dress
Getty Images

In troubling sign for economy

U.S. birth rates hit a record low in 2013, federal researchers said Thursday, down 9% from a high in 2007.

The “baby bust,” revealed in a report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicates that women are delaying having children until later in life. The declines were among women under 30, while the rates for women over 35 actually went up. Childbearing among older women has risen over the last three decades, according to the CDC, with rates for women 35 and older at the highest levels in roughly 50 years.

The decline in childbirths is not good news for the U.S. economy. Years of declining populations rates have created economic crises in Europe and Japan, as labor forces contract, the tax base shrinks, and the population gets older.

The good news? Birth rates did fall 10% among teenagers.

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