TIME

NYC Probe Finds Firm Knowingly Participated in Video About Killing Police Officers

Investigation focuses on The Bronx Defenders

A public defense firm that receives significant funding from New York City knowingly participated in a music video that advocated for the killing of police officers, an investigation by the city’s Department of Investigation has found.

Attorneys at The Bronx Defenders not only appeared in the video but allowed it to be filmed at their headquarters, according to a department statement on the findings. Rap lyrics in the “Hands Up” video include “For Mike Brown and Sean Bell a cop got to get killed” and “time to start killing these coppers.” In one scene, two men point guns at the head of a man dressed as an officer.

“Advocating the killing of police officers is unacceptable and offensive,” DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said in the statement. “These attorneys have abysmally failed to meet their obligations to their clients, to the courts and to the city as a whole.”

The video was released at a tense time for the city, which faced tough police-community relations following the chokehold-related death of Staten Island man Eric Garner and lack of indictment for the officer involved in that case. The video, however, was released prior to the deadly ambush of two officers in Brooklyn.

Investigators also found that the executive director of the firm misled city officials about the organization’s involvement. The New York Daily News reports Robin Steinberg, the organization’s director, released a statement saying the rappers “released a version of ‘Hands Up’ we did not authorize or endorse,” shortly after the video went public.

The Department of Investigations began looking into the Bronx Defenders involvement on Dec. 12. City officials are mulling a next action.

TIME Transportation

Delta Pilot Gets Locked Out of Cockpit

The door reportedly malfunctioned

Call it an emergency that wasn’t. A Delta Air Lines flight heading to Las Vegas made an emergency landing Thursday after the pilot got locked out of the cockpit.

The flight from Minneapolis was declared an emergency 13 minutes before its planned landing at McCarran International Airport, according to CBS News. Still, the plane landed normally; no one on board was injured and the aircraft was not damaged, aside from the door to the cockpit that reportedly malfunctioned.

Delta issued a statement Thursday saying the crew had everything under control: “A commercial aircraft can be landed with one pilot at the control and Delta pilots are fully trained to do so if the situation were to occur.”

[CBS News]

 

TIME White House

Obama to Request $1 Billion for Investment in Central America

Barack Obama,
Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP President Barack Obama making opening remarks at the House Democratic Issues Conference in Philadelphia on Jan. 29, 2015.

Vice President tapped by Obama to "lead this new effort"

President Barack Obama will request $1 billion from Congress on Monday to aid Central American governments making tough reforms as more youth seek opportunities in the United States, Vice President Joe Biden wrote in an op-ed published Thursday. That amount, he adds, is “almost three times what we generally have provided to Central America.”

Biden’s op-ed for the New York Times details that the funds would go toward security, governance and economic investments in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—where the bulk of the children who cross America’s southwestern border traveled from last summer. He uses past investments in Colombia to combat poverty, corruption and drug trafficking—amounting to $9 billion since 1999—as a barometer of success and notes that Obama “has asked me to lead this new effort.”

“The cost of investing now in a secure and prosperous Central America is modest compared with the costs of letting violence and poverty fester,” Biden writes. “Together, we can help Central America become an embodiment of the Western Hemisphere’s remarkable rise—not an exception to it.”

Read more at NYT.

TIME White House

Michelle Obama Shares Throwback Photo to Encourage Youth to Get Insured

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden did the same

First Lady Michelle Obama shared an adorable picture of her younger self on social media Thursday, in a nod to both “throwback Thursday” and the Obama administration’s ongoing effort to get more young people signed up for health insurance.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden got in on the #tbt action, too. The White House shared a picture of a young Barack exclaiming gleefully during a romp on the beach. His picture, too, was a bid to get youth to visit HealthCare.gov.

The White House is ramping up its push to get people to the health insurance marketplace ahead of the second enrollment period deadline on Feb. 15. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 9.5 million Americans have selected or reenrolled in plans through HealthCare.gov; 35%, or 2.5 million, are under age 35.

TIME Research

Most Americans and Scientists Tend to Disagree, Survey Finds

science chemistry beakers
Getty Images

And that's not a good thing, scientists say

Regular Americans and their scientist counterparts think much differently about science-related issues, according to a new pair of surveys.

The Pew Research Center, in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, asked 5,750 American citizens and scientists their opinions on a series of scientific topics. They found striking gaps between the two groups, particularly on issues related to biomedical science.

Food is a major source of friction for the both camps. A full 57% of Americans think that consuming genetically modified foods is unsafe, but 88% of scientists say GMO foods are safe to eat. Pesticide use is another contentious issue: 68% of scientists think it’s safe to eat foods grown with pesticides, while only 28% of lay Americans agree.

When it comes to using animals in research, 89% of scientists give the practice the green light, but only 47% of Americans are ok with it—and 50% of Americans are against the use of animals in research. Non-scientist Americans were also far less likely to believe in evolution than scientists.

On eight of the 13 topics, researchers saw at least a 20-percentage point gap in opinion between Americans and scientists. That’s a troubling statistic, scientists say. According to the survey, 84% of them believe the public’s lack of knowledge about the field is a major problem.

Scientists and non-scientists agree on at least one topic, however: neither group thinks that science, technology, engineering and math education in American elementary and high schools is performing well enough when compared to programs across the globe.

TIME Local Politics

Rapper 2 Chainz is Serious About Running for Mayor

2 Chainz, Tauheed Epps
Charles Sykes—Invision/AP This Aug. 31, 2013 file photo shows 2 Chainz performing at the 2013 Budweiser Made in America Festival in Philadelphia, Pa.

2 chainz: rapper, fierce debater, champion for felon voting rights, and, now perhaps, mayor?

Rapper Tauheed Epps, better known by his stage name 2 chainz, is apparently mulling a run for mayor of his hometown, College Park, Ga. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Epps—whose hits include “I Luv Dem Strippers” and “No Lie”—Epps said that he was seriously considering a run.

“I am looking forward to running at the end of this year or next year. [I’m] waiting to see if I meet all of the qualifications!” the Grammy-nominated artist told the paper.

Interest in Epps’ political ambitions peaked earlier this week after he told XXL Magazine about his potential run.

“I’m supposed to be running for mayor in College Park. I got everybody wishing,” Epps said. “I’m really gonna do this little mayor thing in College Park. I’m just trying to make sure I have the right qualifications.”

2 chainz wouldn’t be the first rapper to dabble in local politics. In 2011, Luther Campbell, formerly known by his rap name “Uncle Luke” of the 2 Live Crew ran for mayor of Miami-Dade County in South Florida. Campbell lost.

Though Epp is known musically for rhyming booty with itself and rapping about selling crack (though the author is particularly partial to the line “Pull up to the scene with my roof gone/when I leave the scene bet your boo gone”), Epps knows about more than just money, women and clothes.

The 37-year-old attended Alabama State University on a basketball scholarship and reportedly received high marks while he was there. Though a convicted felon, Epps is a champion for restoring felons’ voting rights. He also recently made headway for going toe-to-toe with HLN host Nancy Grace over the legalization of marijuana, and arguably, besting her in a fierce debate.

If qualified to run for office, Epps could prove a worthy contender for incumbent College Park mayor Jack Longino. Longino, however, isn’t worried. The 20-year mayor told the Daily Beast recently he doesn’t believe Epps is a College Park resident. But if he does and decides to run, Longino said, “we’ll let the people decide.”

TIME Congress

Pro-Life Congressman Explains Why He’s Now Pro-Choice

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, speaks at a news conference in Washington on Feb. 14, 2007.
Susan Walsh—AP Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, speaks at a news conference in Washington on Feb. 14, 2007.

Ryan says talking to women helped change his mind

Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan has officially changed his stance on abortion—from pro-life to pro-choice.

Ryan, who has been serving in the House of Representatives since 2003, says he has self-identified as pro-life for the majority of his political career, having being raised Catholic. But the Ohio representative wrote in an op-ed published by the Akron Beacon Journal on Wednesday that his conversations with women across Ohio and the country about the myriad reasons that lead them to have an abortion led him to change his mind.

“These women gave me a better understanding of how complex and difficult certain situations can become. And while there are people of good conscience on both sides of this argument, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: the heavy hand of government must not make this decision for women and families,” Ryan writes.

Ryan goes on to say, “each and every American deserves the right to deal with these difficult situations in consultation with their families, close friends, or religious advisers.”

The op-ed comes nearly a week after some Republican women in the House of Representatives stopped a vote on an anti-abortion bill because of language included in it that would have but restrictions on women seeking to end pregnancies that resulted from rape. A vote on that bill was scheduled for Jan. 22, the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Roe v. Wade.

As recently as 2009 Ryan trumpeted his record on pro-life legislation, while promoting a bill that would reduce unintended pregnancies in an effort to find common ground among pro-choice and pro-life communities. In 2013, Ryan opposed a ban on abortions after 20-weeks, saying it was “dangerous in its implications.” Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life Committee, a leading pro-life organization, calls Ryan a “pro-life impersonator” and notes he’s never consistently voted pro-life—according to the organization’s scorecard, he’s voted “against” them more times than he has for them throughout his time in office.

“This is dog-bites-man from my perspective,” Johnson tells TIME.

Yet given his past self-identification as pro-life, Ryan’s stance is now abundantly clear. “I am a 41-year-old father and husband whose feelings on this issue have changed. I have come a long way since being a single, 26-year-old state senator, and I am not afraid to say that my position has evolved as my experiences have broadened, deepened and become more personal. And while I have deep respect for people on both sides of this conversation, I would be abandoning my own conscience and judgment if I held a position that I no longer believed appropriate,” he writes

Women’s health organization Planned Parenthood has lauded Ryan’s pivot on the divisive issue saying in a statement that they look forward to working with him.

“Congressman Ryan joins the overwhelming majority of Americans who want women to have access to abortion and don’t want politicians to interfere in women’s personal medical decisions,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, in a statement.

Read next: Mormon Church Supports LGBT Protections in Shift

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Congress

Loretta Lynch’s Sorority Sisters Came to Her Attorney General Confirmation Hearing

Loretta Lynch Howard Sorority Sisters
Alma S. Adams (@RepAdams) via Twitter Congresswoman Alma S. Adams posted this photo on Jan. 28, 2014. "Supporting Greensboro native, Loretta Lynch, in her confirmation hearing for U.S. Attorney General. #NC12"

Including some members of Congress

Women of the storied African American sorority Delta Sigma Theta flooded a Senate hearing room on Wednesday to support their fellow sorority sister and Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch.

Lynch, who is set to face a tough hearing for the post, started a chapter of the sorority at Harvard with current Attorney General Eric Holder’s wife, Sharon Malone. Though the connection was seen as controversial to members of the right-wing media, her sorority sisters proudly donned the organization’s signature colors—crimson and cream—in the hearing room.

The sorority was founded in 1913 at Washington, D.C.’s Howard University on tenets of empowerment, justice, and community service. Several current and former members of Congress are members, including Reps. Joyce Beatty and Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Rep. Yvette Clark of New York, and former Congresswomen Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm.

TIME Congress

Republican House Takes Aim at Human Trafficking Again

House Republicans
Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, left, and Majority Whip Steve Scalise conduct a news conference after a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol, Jan. 27, 2015.

The House passed a dozen bills that combat the issue of human trafficking, particularly child sex trafficking

Several bills passed the House of Representatives this week to combat human trafficking worldwide. Between Monday and Tuesday, a total of 12 bipartisan bills attacking the issue from all angles—from the demand for sex trafficking to the welfare system’s response to victims—passed the Republican-controlled House.

Many of the bills that passed Tuesday had passed the House during the 113th Congress, but didn’t get voted on in the Senate. Republicans are hopeful that will change this time around.

“Though last year many of these same bills got stuck in the Senate, for the sake of all those affected by human trafficking, I’m hopeful that these bills will be passed through the Senate, sent to the President’s desk, and finally become law,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

A total of 13 bills focused on trafficking passed the House last session and one, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, was signed into law last September. The bills were lauded by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle as important steps toward ending the practice, seen across the globe as a modern form of slavery.

Bills on the issue of human trafficking have also been introduced in the Senate, including a bill from Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called the Combat Human Trafficking Act, aimed at those who engage in sex acts with victims of trafficking. The bill, introduced Jan. 8, would also ramp up law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute buyers and increase victim services. In a statement to TIME, Sen. Portman called human trafficking the “human rights cause of our time.”

“I am hopeful that legislation to strengthen law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute all who commit sex trafficking crimes will soon become law,”said Portman.

On Tuesday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) spoke on the Senate floor urging action on a bill he and several Senators introduced in January called the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. “Yes, human trafficking is happening right in our own backyard, and more than 80% of sex trafficking victims in America are U.S. citizens,” Cornyn said, noting that big sporting events like the Super Bowl can be hotbeds for sex trafficking.

Human trafficking is estimated to be a multinational, multibillion-dollar industry and one of the most lucrative international criminal practices. The Department of Homeland Security estimates over 20 million men, women, and children are victims of trafficking. An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 American children are at risk of becoming child sex trafficking victims every year, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The bills before Congress address what’s arguably the most maligned form of trafficking—child sex trafficking— and they go pretty far, too. One bill, the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act, calls on states to provide welfare services including counseling to keep child victims from having to enter the criminal justice system. Another bill, International Megan’s Law, would require the U.S. to communicate about when and where convicted child sex offenders are traveling internationally. One bill would make it a crime to “knowingly” sell advertising that offers certain commercial sex acts, in an effort to stop websites like backpage.com.

Though the issue of child sex trafficking is well addressed in the bills, little attention is given to international and domestic labor trafficking, of which there are an estimated 14.2 million victims worldwide. The oversight hasn’t gone unnoticed by leading anti-trafficking group Polaris , which operates the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

“Overall the introduction of these bills is a step in the right direction,” Brandon Bouchard, a spokesperson for Polaris tells TIME. “We just wish Congress would include labor trafficking in their efforts to combat trafficking worldwide.”

The group is also worried that some of the new initiatives proposed under the legislation will impose on already cash-strapped programs.

“Funding for survivor services is already severely limited. Adding new programs and initiatives that draw funding from these minimal allocations is counterintuitive,” said Polaris director of national programs Keeli Sorensen in a statement.

The bills came at the start of a busy week on the issue of trafficking. Human rights organization Human Rights First will host a working group meeting in Washington, bringing together government and non-profit leaders from across the nation to discuss how to best address the issue.

TIME europe

Auschwitz Survivors Mark 70th Anniversary of Camp’s Liberation

World leaders joined about 300 survivors at the infamous Nazi camp

Correction appended

Hundreds of survivors returned to the Holocaust’s most infamous concentration camp, Auschwitz, to mark the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation for what’s expected to be the last time.

World leaders, including the presidents of Germany and France, joined about 300 survivors at a commemorative event at the Polish site on Tuesday, the BBC reports. About 1,500 survivors returned in 2005; many of the remaining survivors, now elderly, were children and teens when they were held in Auschwitz.

French President Francois Hollande’s presence at the event comes in the wake of terror attacks in Paris, including an attack at a Jewish supermarket. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend Tuesday’s commemoration, though the Soviet army was responsible for liberating the camp in 1945.

The site opened as a museum just two years later, in 1947.

[BBC]

Correction: The original version of this story has been updated to clarify the location of the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com