TIME weather

Over 4,000 Flights Delayed or Canceled Around U.S. Due to Winter Storms

Winter Storm Causes Delays For Thanksgiving Holiday Travelers
A group of friends traveling to San Francisco, Calif., walk through the terminal at Philadelphia International Airport Nov. 26, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania William Thomas Cain—Getty Images

Large swaths of the country face beastly conditions on one of the busiest travel days of the year

A wintry mix of snow and rain that crept up the East Coast on Wednesday slowed travel on one of the busiest days of the year.

According to the website Flightaware.com, 4,548 flights were delayed into, within or out of the U.S. Wednesday and 731 were canceled. While this isn’t a particularly large number of delays, so many people are traveling at present that accommodating stranded passengers could prove problematic, CNN reports.

Winter Storm Cato dropped over a foot of snow in some Mid-Atlantic states with snow also expected in New England, The Weather Channel reports. In parts of Maine, between three and five inches of snow had fallen by Wednesday evening. In West Virginia, according to CNN, up to 18 inches of snow has fallen. The adverse weather conditions mean bad news for drivers who faced slick roads across swaths of the East Coast and Midwest.

An estimated 46 million Americans were expected to travel over 50 miles from home this Thanksgiving, according to the AAA, the highest level since 2007. The majority are expected to travel by car.

As a precaution, governors in New York and New Jersey took steps to ensure traveler safety on Wednesday. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo restricted commercial traffic along I-84 and other parts of the New York State Thruway. In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie issued a precautionary state of emergency and sent more than 1,900 vehicles to plow and treat roads.

Thanksgiving Day looks clearer for most of the country, though the Pacific Northwest are set to face some wet weather that could snarl traffic on Turkey Day.

TIME Companies

Labor Group Plans Strike of Walmart Stores on Black Friday

Operations Inside A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Location Ahead Of Black Friday
Employees assist shoppers at the check out counter of a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location ahead of Black Friday in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014 Bloomberg—Getty Images

For the third year in a row, OUR Walmart is planning a massive strike on Black Friday

Employees at Walmart stores in at least six states and Washington, D.C., plan to strike on one of the busiest shopping days of the year to protest workers’ wages and hours.

OUR Walmart, an employee labor group, announced earlier in November that workers across the country would walk out over “illegal silencing of workers who are standing up for better jobs.” The group has been hosting Black Friday strikes since 2012, but promises this year’s will be the largest yet.

The group has the support of some of the nation’s labor unions including UFCW, a grocery and retailers union, the American Federations of Teachers in New Mexico, and AFL-CIO. In a statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “the entire labor movement will proudly stand with the brave workers at Walmart as they lead the largest mobilization to date for better wages and schedules.”

Added Trumka: “Their courage is inspiring and powerful in the fight for all workers.”

Employees are calling for consistent, full-time work as well as a living wage of $15/hour. In a press release, Our Walmart boasts that its previous efforts against the retail giant have led the company to agree to increase minimum wages for its lowest paid workers as well as program that provides workers with greater access to open shifts.

Late Wednesday, social media reports began circulating of workers in Washington, D.C., and other cities who had already started participating in sit-ins and strikes. The group also accuses Walmart’s owners of growing wealthy on the backs of their low-wage workers.

“While many Walmart workers are unable to feed and clothe their families, the Walton family takes in $8.6 million a day in Walmart dividends alone to build on its $150 billion in wealth,” read a statement. “Walmart brings in $16 billion in annual profits.”

TIME Crime

Darren Wilson’s Lawyers Say He Has No Plans to Apologize to Michael Brown’s Family

“Even if he gave the most heartfelt apology, they’d still not like it"

The legal team of Darren Wilson, the white police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., igniting violent protests in the St. Louis suburb and a national conversation on race, said Wednesday that he has no specific plans to apologize to the family of Michael Brown.

“Even if he gave the most heartfelt apology, they’d still not like it,” one of his lawyers, James Towey, told the Washington Post. The long-awaited announcement this week that a grand jury declined to indict Wilson in the Aug. 9 killing prompted rioting and arson around Ferguson, as well as large demonstrations across the country.

Wilson spent months in hiding following the incident, rarely going out in public and bouncing between homes to stay under the radar. When he settled on an undisclosed location, according to his lawyers, he used disguises whenever he did mundane activities like go to the movies, which they said he prefers because of the darkness.

Read more at the Washington Post.

TIME Music

One Direction’s New Album ‘Four’ Makes Billboard Chart History

28th Annual ARIA Awards 2014 - Show
One Direction perform on stage during the 28th Annual ARIA Awards 2014 at the Star on November 26, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Brendon Thorne—Getty Images

Only group in the chart's 58-year history to achieve the distinction

Rejoice, One Direction fans! The five singers again appear unstoppable as they made chart history this week.

Billboard reports the group’s fourth album in three years, Four, sold 387,000 copies within the first week of its release, marking the second-largest debut of 2014 so far. With that, One Direction became the only group in the Billboard 200 chart’s 58-year history to have their first four albums debut at No. 1.

Only two other groups in the chart’s history to have seen their first four studio albums even hit the top spot were The Monkees and The Kingston Trio.

[Billboard]

TIME Crime

Rev. Al Sharpton: Pray for Michael Brown’s Family on Thanksgiving

Reverand Al Sharpton speaks at a press conference on the eve of Thanksgiving to pray and address the events of the last few days regarding the grand jury verdict of police officer Darren Wilson on Nov. 26, 2014 in New York.
Reverand Al Sharpton speaks at a press conference on the eve of Thanksgiving to pray and address the events of the last few days regarding the grand jury verdict of police officer Darren Wilson on Nov. 26, 2014 in New York. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

Families of two men killed in police incidents came together with Rev. Al Sharpton

The families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, who were both killed in confrontations with police officers over the summer, are set to experience their first Thanksgivings without their loved ones. In preparation for the holiday, Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network hosted a “bonding prayer” Wednesday for the two families at the civil rights organization’s headquarters in Harlem.

“Not only do they share pain of being victims of police conduct,” Sharpton said. “This will be their first Thanksgiving with an empty seat at the table”

Garner was killed after being held in a chokehold by a New York City officer. For Brown’s family, the wounds from his death are especially fresh given the grand jury decision announced this week not to indict officer Darren Wilson, who fired the fatal shots at the 18-year-old. Since the announcement of the decision, protests have sprang up across the U.S. and in Brown’s hometown of Ferguson, Mo.

“We hope that when people pull up to their tables on Thanksgiving, they pray for these families,” Sharpton said before praying that both Garner’s and Brown’s deaths “birth a new way” of handling police conduct and race relations in America.

TIME Germany

BMW Hits Back at Germany’s Female Board Quota Plan

Plan would require 30% of supervisory board positions to go to women

BMW and other German industry leaders are blasting a government plan to get more women in key business roles.

A spokesman for the automaker said it “doesn’t believe in quotas” while denouncing a bill supported by Chancellor Angela Merkel that would require 30% of supervisory board positions at companies to go to women, Bloomberg reports. “While we hold that opinion,” BMW Spokesman Jochen Frey said, “we want and strive for diversity in our workforce in terms of gender, ethnicity and age.”

The plan is expected to apply to 114 large companies starting in 2016. In 2015, smaller ones will need to set and publicize their plans to get a certain amount of women into management positions. Women currently hold about 6% of seats on management boards and 22% of supervisory board positions in Germany, the report adds, and several top-level government posts.

“We can’t afford to forgo the competence of women,” Merkel was quoted as saying Wednesday. “We’ve decided to do this and it will happen.”

[Bloomberg]

TIME White House

This is How You Prepare a Hotel Room for Presidential Turkeys

Barack Obama, Malia Obama, Sasha Obama, Gary Cooper, Cole Cooper
President Barack Obama gestures that his daughters Sasha and Malia would rather pass on touching "Cheese," the turkey during a ceremony at the White House in Washington D.C. on Nov. 26, 2014. Jacquelyn Martin—AP

Birds who’ve grown accustomed to a particular lifestyle require special attention—especially when they’re about to meet the President

On the third floor of the Willard InterContinental Hotel in downtown Washington, a stone’s throw from the home of President Obama, four people (the author included) armed with a giant roll of clear tape, wrapped brown paper, and three large bags of pine shavings faced an important task.

In a couple of hours (the time fluctuated thanks to Monday afternoon traffic) two 50-pound turkeys would need to call the foyer of room 326 their home. There was much work to be done.

Why would two birds be spending the night in a hotel that typically houses dignitaries (many of whom, I’m sure, eat poultry) on the same floor that houses the Martin Luther King Jr. Suite? The answer is simple: these are no ordinary birds.

For the past four months, Cole and Gary Cooper of Cooper Farms in western Ohio have been raising a pair of turkeys that will on Thursday have the pleasure of avoiding the dinner table. As the chairman of the National Turkey Federation, Cooper got the privilege of being home of the turkey —and the back-up turkey— that will get pardoned by the President in the annual Turkey pardoning ceremony.

Gary Cooper told TIME before heading to the District that having the opportunity to raise the presidential turkey is the “pinnacle of the turkey industry” which raised over 240 million turkeys last year—46 million of which were eaten at Thanksgiving.

“It’s a real honor to be able to chosen to do this,” said Gary, whose farm has been in his family for generations. “The whole thing is just a very positive experience for not just my family, but the whole industry and the nation.”

The two-decade old tradition of having the sitting President goofily wave his hands over a nonchalant bird after a brief speech on Thanksgiving morning is often mocked and, at times, compared to the pardoning of actual (human) prisoners. Last Week Tonight host John Oliver recently questioned why we bother pardoning turkeys at all given they’re all “guilty of being delicious.” Yet, it’s one of those harmless traditions likely to stick around.

Life on the farm has been pretty luxurious for the two male, broad-breasted white birds who have been chosen, which were named Mac and Cheese on Wednesday. Cole, 29, built a custom red barn for the flock of potential presidential turkeys he raised near his home. Their dwellings have been kept at a cool 75 degrees for their comfort and they’ve been free to roam in and out of the barn at their will, as long as Cole has been around to make sure the birds don’t become dinner for local predators. They’ve also become pretty fond of Kenny Chesney (in their opinion, Cole says, Life on a Rock is his best work). But between their cozy barn in Ohio and their future home at Morven Park in Virginia, the birds will be a little more restricted.

In recent years, Leslee Oden and Damon Wells of the National Turkey Federation have been preparing hotel rooms for turkeys and they’ve picked up some handy tricks along the way. For instance, two six-foot folding tables can easily be fashioned into a blockade for a bird. Brown paper is a sturdy barrier between a precocious turkey’s peck and the hotels baseboards. And the foyer of the deluxe room with two queen beds at the four-star hotel (currently $229 per night) is the ideal space for the birds.

We roll out the massive strips of tape on the ornate carpet as I toss out questions about life for the birds B.O. (before meeting Obama) and what life will be like after. I ask if we’re cutting the brown paper the “hotdog way” as a nod to my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Snyder. And we discuss the varying breeds of turkeys the Coopers raised in the lead up to Thursday’s ceremony, including Spanish black, blue slate, and bronze turkeys.. In a conversation with TIME, Cole said the two “chosen” birds essentially picked themselves.

“I was actually in the barn on Wednesday, just like any other night to see how they’re interacting with each other,” Cole said last Friday. “And these two birds just walk up to me and started strutting. It was like they said, ‘hey, we’re ready to go.’”

Much like their digs at Cooper Farms, the tape-lined carpet of the Willard is covered with pine-shavings and outfitted with a feeder strategically placed on top of a mini garbage can. Aside from providing familiar flooring, the pine shavings also make the looming task of scooping up their, um, waste easy.

It took a little over an hour to prepare the room for the birds, who still hadn’t arrived when I left, but got more than enough of their share of the spotlight during a media event on Tuesday.

TIME space

See What Astronauts Eat for Thanksgiving Dinner in Space

Smoked turkey with all the freeze-dried fixings

They may be in orbit 260 miles above Earth, but that doesn’t mean the astronauts aboard the International Space Station won’t enjoy some traditional Thanksgiving fare to celebrate on Thursday. Though their meal may look a little different than what your family has planned.

The smoked turkey, corn-bread dressing, green beans, and candied yams that these space explorers will eat have been irradiated, thermostabilized, or freeze-dried. Regardless, the six astronauts on board—Americans Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts, Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova of Russia’s Roscosmos and Italian Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency— are looking forward to their holiday feast. In a video message, Commander Butch Wilmore also shared what he’s most thankful for this holiday: our troops.

“People around the globe that are doing things day in and day out that make a difference for freedom,” Wilmore said. “I’m thankful for those people. I’m thankful for their families.”

TIME Health Care

Over 450,000 Have Signed Up for Health Insurance

Health Overhaul Version 2
This image shows the website for updated HealthCare,gov, a federal government website managed by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service. The Obama administration has unveiled an updated version of HealthCare.gov. It’s got some improvements and some challenges. There’s also at least one early mistake. (AP Photo) Associated Press

Compared to 125 last year this time

Over 450,000 people signed up for health insurance via the healthcare.gov website during the first week of open enrollment, the Obama administration said Wednesday.

The Department of Health and Human Services says 462, 125 people signed up for insurance between Nov. 15 and Nov. 21. Nearly half of those enrollees were new customers, Vox reports.

Last year during the first month of the rocky rollout of Obama’s signature health care law, only about 106,000 people signed up for insurance.

Enrollment via the Spanish-language version of healthcare.gov, however, lags. The site has had about 95,000 users since the second enrollment period began.

The release of figures after the first week is a part of an Obama Administration effort to be more transparent about how many people are signing up for insurance via the health care marketplace.

[Vox]

TIME Supreme Court

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Undergoes Heart Surgery

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, celebrating her 20th anniversary on the bench, is photographed in the West conference room at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday, August 30, 2013. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images) The Washington Post—The Washington Post/Getty Images

After experiencing discomfort, the 81-year-old justice was taken to the hospital where a blockage was discovered

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent heart surgery on Wednesday. The 81-year-old justice is said to be “resting comfortably” and will likely be released within the next 48 hours, according to a Supreme Court release.

Ginsburg had a stent — a small mesh tube that supports narrow or weak arteries — implanted in her right coronary artery. She reportedly felt discomfort during exercise on Tuesday and was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center where a blockage was discovered.

This is the latest health issue for Ginsburg, who was treated for cancer in 1999 and 2009. The justice has been called on to retire by many on the left who want her to give up her seat so President Obama can appoint a left-leaning successor, though with the Senate soon in Republican hands many think it’s likely too late.

At any rate, Ginsburg isn’t planning on going anywhere soon. In an interview with Elle in September, Ginsburg quashed rumors that she had plans to step down.

“As long as I can do the job full steam…. I think I’ll recognize when the time comes that I can’t any longer. But now I can,” Ginsburg said.

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