Beloved Japanese Cat ‘Elevated to Status of Goddess’ at Lavish Funeral

Cat stationmaster Tama, superstar in western Japan, dies
Kyodo/AP Tama, a cat stationmaster of a railway station in western Japan, attends an event at her Kishi Station in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan in Jan., 2013.

Tama wasn't just any old cat to this community

The beloved rail station cat who died in Japan last week had a funeral fit for a goddess.

Rail officials and thousands of fans attended the funeral for Tama, who died last week after years of attracting tourists to a rail station in Western Japan. According to BBC, she was “elevated to the status of a goddess” at her Shinto-style funeral and titled an “honorary permanent stationmaster.”

The feline was more than just a cute addition to the station, BBC reports, she was also a cash cow. By having her as stationmaster, the railway was able to help turn around from near bankruptcy. Her presence helped generate about 1.1 billion yen.

As a thank you, well-wishers are leaving flowers and cans of tuna outside of the station.


TIME relationships

Women Keeping Their Maiden Names More Often, Report Finds

It may not be for the reason you think

More women are opting against saying “I do” to changing their last names.

According to a new analysis by New York TimesThe Upshot blog, about 30% of women in recent years have decided to keep their maiden names in some way after getting married. The Upshot finds about 20% keep their last name in full, while 10% have opted to hyphenate their two names.

The number of women who have decided not to take on their husband’s last name has risen since the 1980s and 1990s, when only 14% and 18% of women kept their maiden names, respectively. Women most likely to keep their names are high-income urban women—like those featured in the Times wedding section, among whom some 29.5% have kept their maiden names in recent years, up from 16.2 percent in 1990.

Not every woman opts to keep her surname in the name of gender equality, the newspaper reports. “It’s not necessarily a feminist reason, but it’s just my name for 33 years of my life,” said Donna Suh, who married last year. “Plus, I’m Asian and he’s not, so it’s less confusing for me to not have a white name. And on social media I thought it might be harder to find me.”


TIME Crime

Feds Investigate String of Fires at Black Churches in South

Church Fire Investigation
Davie Hinshaw—AP Elisha Walker, 9, and his mother Bonita Walker look at the charred remains of the back left wing of Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. on June 24, 2015.

6 black churches catch fire with 3 suspected as arson in wake of Emanuel murders

A string of fires at churches with predominantly black congregations is being examined by federal investigators in the wake of the recent massacre at Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina.

Six churches have burned in the past week, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and three of the fires are being investigated as arson. Given the history of anti-black violence centering around churches, particularly in the south, the SPLC says the incidents may not be a coincidence.

According to the Washington Post, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are involved in the investigation into the incidents — though the FBI says it’s too soon to tell if they’re at all connected.

The College Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tenn. was set ablaze on June 22, along with a church van outside of the building. Investigators suspect arson, though WATE reports it is not being investigated as a hate crime.

TIME reported last week that a fire at a black Baptist church in Charlotte, N.C. is being investigated as arson. The fire at Briar Creek Baptist church was reportedly so big it took around 75 firefighters about an hour to get the flames under control.

In Macon, Ga., investigators believe the God’s Power Church of Christ was also intentionally set ablaze and have been investigating a fire there as an arson.

Three other churches in Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee were set on fire last week, too, though two were believed to be caused by either lightning or electric wires, the Post reports. A cause for one of the fires has not yet been determined.

Scrutiny of the series of fires comes after the killing of nine people at a Bible study meeting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. The suspected killer in that case Dylann Roof, 21, was motivated by racial hatred.

President Obama noted Friday the black church has long been the “center of African-American life” at the funeral for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was killed by Roof. Violence against black churches dates back to before the Civil Rights movement, though there was a spate of incidents in the 1990s.

TIME White House

Obama Delivers Powerful Eulogy to Slain Charleston Pastor

President Obama delivered a stirring eulogy and meditation on the nature of grace at the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney Friday, one week after the pastor and eight others were gunned down in a church.

For a little over 30 minutes, Obama traded his typical even tone for a more rousing preacherly style, bringing the crowd of thousands at College of Charleston’s TD Arena, to its feet again and again. At one point, he even sang “Amazing Grace,” a hymn written by a reformed slave-trader who converted to Christianity.

Though the touchstone of his remarks was Pinckney, Obama blended personal remembrances with calls for political renewal and a recurring theological discussion of grace, evoking the very kinds of sermons an AME pastor might give.

“We are here today to remember a man of God who lived by faith,” the president said. “A man who believed in things not seen. A man who believed there were better days ahead, off in the distance.”

He referred to Pinckney, who also served as a Democratic state senator, as a “good man,” and noted that though he didn’t know Pinckney well, he did have the pleasure of knowing him.

Upon meeting the man who friends and family members have said was “anointed,” and destined to be a public servant and leader, Obama said he was drawn to his “graciousness” and “reassuring baritone.” Pinckney in many ways fulfilled the destiny those around him prophesized, entering the pulpit at age 13, getting ordained by 18 and later becoming the youngest black person ever elected to the state legislature.

Obama said Pinckney was, “wise beyond his years in his speech, conduct, in his love, faith, and purity.”

“What a good man,” Obama said of Pinckney. “Sometimes I think that’s the best thing to hope for when you’re eulogized. After all the words and recitations and resumes are read, just to say somebody was a good man.”

Obama remarked that he was proud of Republican Gov. Nikki Haley for calling for the removal of the Confederate flag at the South Carolina state capitol. The alleged killer in last week’s massacre, Dylann Roof, was found to have embraced the flag and a white supremacist mindset that would later fuel his hatred and lead him to open fire in Emanuel AME Church.

Obama would later recall the names of each of the nine victims of last week’s massacre, noting that they had all found grace — a grace that Obama said the alleged killer couldn’t have known they possessed when he entered the church with the intention of ending their lives.

“Blinded by hatred, the alleged killer could not see the grace surrounding Pinckney and that Bible study group,” Obama said.

Grace, the president noted, was the virtue he’d been reminded up in the week since the brutal killing. “Grace,” he said, “ is the free and benevolent favor of God.”

“As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us,” he said. “For he has allowed us to see where he have been blind.”

But the politics of the moment were not lost on the president. Obama again called for serious reflection on gun reform and gun violence. “I’m convinced that by acknowledging the pain and loss of others, even as we respect the traditions and ways of life that make up this beloved country,” Obama said, “by making the moral choice to change, we express God’s grace.”

Obama called on the nation not to retreat into a “comfortable silence” in the wake of last week’s tragedy in hopes that by refusing to do so, despite the lack of movement on policies from gun control and ongoing debates on race relations.

“It would be a betrayal of everything Rev. Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again,” Obama said.

TIME White House

Obama Declares ‘Victory’ After Historic Same-Sex Marriage Decision

"This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. " Obama said Friday

President Obama declared “our union a little more perfect” on Friday after the Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marriage.

Speaking from the Rose Garden on the second day in a row that the Supreme Court handed down a historic ruling, Obama said Friday’s landmark decision could be credited not only to the Supreme Court, but also to the “countless small acts of courage” of gays, lesbians and allies who stood strong in the face of adversity over decades.

“What a vindication of the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things,” Obama said Friday, speaking for just under 10 minutes. “What a reminder of what Bobby Kennedy once said about how small actions can be like pebbles being thrown into a still lake and ripples of hope cascade outwards and change the world.”

Though many Republican lawmakers stand firm in their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman, there has been a seismic shift in the country’s feeling on the subject. On Friday, the Supreme Court affirmed that point of view, declaring that states do not have the right to keep same-sex couples from getting married, and that gay and lesbian couples have the legal right to marry in the U.S.

Obama’s celebration of Friday’s ruling came just one day after he declared “victory” for his signature health care law, which the Supreme Court saved from being upended, and he used the same word to describe the same-sex marriage decision.

“It’s a victory for gay and lesbian couples who have fought so long for their basic civil rights. It’s a victory for their children, whose families will now be recognized as equal to any other,” Obama said Friday. “And this ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”

Obama said that though the U.S. was founded on the principle that all were created equal, each generation has faced its own test to ensure that those words ring true for all.

“Progress on this journey often comes in small increments. Sometimes two steps forward, one step back, compelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens,” he said. “And then sometimes there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”

TIME Books

J.K. Rowling Had the Best Response to a Harry Potter Fan Who Is Fasting for Ramadan

Rowling tells a fan which book has the least amount of eating

J.K. Rowling is known for interacting with fans (and foes) on Twitter, but this Thursday the author sent a particularly sweet message to a fan who was fasting for Ramadan.

Mujtaba Alvi, a 21-year-old from Toronto on break from school, was rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when he tweeted at Rowling, telling her that the descriptions of food in the fifth Harry Potter book were hard to take while fasting. During Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, those who follow the faith abstain from all beverages and food from dawn until sunset.

To his surprise, Rowling tweeted him back with a helpful tip, suggesting that he read the seventh book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, next.

In that book, young wizards Harry, Ron and Hermione are often forced to go without food.

Alvi, who calls himself a “true Potterhead,” told TIME that seeing Rowling’s response was “surreal.” Plus, Thursday was his birthday—Rowling’s tweet, he said, was the “greatest gift ever.”

Alvi told TIME he probably will take Rowling up on her suggestion to read Deathly Hollows next. “JK Rowling told me to,” he said via Twitter direct message.

That should be an easy assignment for the Potter fan, who said he’s read the books “multiple times.”

H/t BuzzFeed.


TIME celebrities

Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris Are the Highest-Paid Celebrity Couple

According to Forbes

Move over Jay Z and Beyonce—there’s a new highest-paid ccelebrity couple.

Forbes reports Taylor Swift and new beau Calvin Harris, a singer/producer, songwriter and DJ, raked in $146 million over the past year. Thanks to Swift’s endorsement deals with the likes of Sony and Keds and Harris’ contracts with Giorgio Armani and Sol Republic, the new couple booted mega-stars Bey and Jay from the top spot on the list.

Jay Z and Beyonce weren’t too far behind, though. According to Forbes, the two brought in $110.5 million over the past year thanks in part to ticket sales from their collaborative On the Run tour.

Forbes teased the “world’s highest paid celebrities” as a part of their rollout of the upcoming annual Celebrity 100, which will be published June 29. On this year’s list, Forbes ranked the world’s highest-paid celebrities by annual income only and there are only three couples—Taylor and Calvin, Jay and Beyonce, and Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton—where each person made the list.

Read more at Forbes.

TIME public health

CDC Finds Increase in Outbreaks Linked to Hot Tubs and Pools

Half of the outbreaks associated with treated-recreational water were caused by cryptosporidium, a parasite that causes diarrhea

The U.S. saw 90 outbreaks of illnesses associated with pools and hot tubs between 2011 and 2012, a number that has has “significantly increased,” officials said.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention released a report this week on the outbreaks, which spanned 32 states and Puerto Rico, led to 1,788 cases, 95 hospitalizations, and one death. Half of the incidents associated with treated recreational water—pools and hot tubs—were caused by cryptosporidium, a parasite found in fecal matter that causes diarrhea. That’s a large increase since the first cryptosporidium-related outbreak was detected in 1988, the CDC said.

According to CBS News, the CDC issued a 2014 report that recommends the installation of ultraviolet light, ozone, or some other supplemental disinfectant to kill germs like cryptosporidium.

The best way to keep swimmers and swimming facilities healthy, according to the CDC:

  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
  • Shower before you get in the water.
  • Don’t pee or poop in the water.
  • Don’t swallow the water.
TIME Television

Here’s How The Daily Show Is Saying Goodbye to Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart Portrait Session
Victoria Will—Invision/AP Jon Stewart poses for a portrait in promotion of directorial and screenwriting feature debut Rosewater on Nov. 7, 2014

Starting Friday, the network will stream more than 2,000 episodes of The Daily Show

Jon Stewart will get an extended sendoff from his longtime post at The Daily Show.

Comedy Central announced Thursday the network will bid Stewart “a heartfelt #jonvoyage” across multiple platforms in celebration of his nearly two decades behind the anchor’s desk.

Starting Friday, the network will stream more than 2,000 episodes of the nightly series online and via the Comedy Central app, starting with Stewart’s first show in 1999. In early August, SiriusXM will stream 48 hours worth of Stewart content, and the Daily Show team will host a one-hour special of fan-favorite clips on Aug. 2.

The final episode of The Daily Show with Stewart as the host will air on Aug. 6.

TIME public health

California Moves Toward Stricter Vaccination Rules for Schoolchildren

Getty Images

Months after a measles outbreak infected dozens

Lawmakers in California’s Assembly approved a bill Thursday that would make vaccinations required for schoolchildren, regardless of any parental or religious objection.

The measure, if signed by Governor Jerry Brown following Senate approval of several minor amendments, would be among the strictest mandatory vaccination laws in the U.S., the Los Angeles Times reported. The only way for children starting school to avoid a vaccination against whooping cough and measles would be for a doctor to sign off on an exemption due to a medical condition, like an immune system deficiency or an allergy.

The move comes in the months after a measles outbreak that sickened some 130 people, including visitors to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. If the bill becomes law, California would become the country’s 32nd state to mandate vaccinations regardless of personal beliefs, but only the third to block religious exemptions.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

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