TIME Election 2014

Congresswoman Waters Urges Blacks to Vote in This Year’s Midterms

Maxine Waters
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) marches in the 29th annual Kingdom Day Parade on January 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. David McNew—Getty Images

Speaking at the 20th anniversary Essence Music Festival in New Orleans

Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters urged African Americans on Saturday to get out to the polls in November for the sake of President Barack Obama’s legacy. The representative from California also stressed the historic significance of voting in the African American community during a year when the nation is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Midterm elections are just as important as presidential elections,” Waters said during a speech at the Essence Music Festival. “Think about your ancestors; think about their sacrifice. Think about all of those who gave their lives. Get to the polls.”

African American voters turned out at the polls in record numbers in 2008 and 2012. In 2012, 66.2% of eligible black Americans voted, outnumbering white voters for the first time in history. And black women, who are the target audience of the Essence festival, were primarily responsible for that surge. Essence is owned by TIME parent company Time Inc.

But 2014 is a midterm year, during which non-white voters often turn out in lower rates. And without a big name like Barack Obama up for election, many Democrats worry black turnout will revert back to their typically low levels this November, hurting their chances at the polls.

Waters also said the African American community’s legislative goals are at risk of dying in Congress if Republicans gain control of the Senate on top of the House of Representatives. Fighting for issues like the Voting Rights Act, raising the minimum wage, and improving health care, Waters said, should drive African American voters to the polls.

“We’ve got a lot at stake,” Waters said. “You have got to realize you don’t just vote in a presidential election. We cannot get a bill through. We cannot get anything done as long as [Republicans] are in the majority.”

TIME

New Orleans Mayor: Essence Festival ‘Huge Economic Engine’ for the Big Easy

2014 Essence Music Festival - Seminars - Day 2
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu onstage at the 2014 Essence Music Festival on July 4, 2014 in New Orleans. Paras Griffin—Getty Images

The three-day event generated around $241 million in 2013

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Friday the Essence Music Festival “may be the most important event the people of this city are involved in.”

“What started off as a small music festival,” Landrieu told TIME, “has now turned into a huge economic engine for this city over a weekend that otherwise wouldn’t have filled up the city.”

Over the past 20 years, big names from Beyoncé to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have drawn massive crowds to the “party with a purpose,” which has become the largest African American music festival in the U.S. Essence is owned by TIME parent company Time Inc.

At a press conference on Friday, Landrieu said the financial impact of the 400,000 people expected to pass through New Orleans over the weekend is “in some instances, incalculable.” Last year, the event brought over a half-million people to the city, generating about $200 million during a weekend that was at one time “dead,” says National Urban League president Marc Morial, who was the city’s mayor when the event first came to town.

“Essence not only gave us something over the Fourth of July weekend, but it gave us something every year,” Morial says. “There’s a lot of local businesses that take advantage of the opportunity to enhance their sales by way of Essence.”

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Essence moved the festival to Houston, Texas. The festival’s absence meant the city was left without the people and the money it typically brings in.

“When Essence wasn’t here there was nobody working,” says Murphy Christina, the general manager of Mulate’s Restaurant, a family-owned Cajun restaurant near the festival’s headquarters. The town was so empty that Fourth of July weekend that Christina closed the restaurant. But today, it’s open for business — and business is booming.

“Today, everybody is working,” Christina says. “We’ve got a full house three days in a row.”

Joe Blancheck, general manager of the Marriott hotel across the street from where the event is held, also said the event helps his business.

“All of our hotels sell out pretty far in advance,” Blancheck says. “We have a lot of repeat customers every year.”

TIME cities

New Orleans Says City Is Safe for Essence Festival

Bourbon Street Shooting
Blood stains are seen on the sidewalk at the scene of a shooting that happened early Sunday morning, June 29, 2014, on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Nine people were injured, one seriously, according to New Orleans Police. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Gerald Herbert—AP

Heightened security after last weekend's Bourbon Street shooting

Deputy Mayor of New Orleans Judy Reese Morse says attendees of the 20th annual Essence Festival can rest assured that the city will keep them safe in the wake of last weekend’s shooting in the French Quarter.

“For this weekend, we’ve got what we need to make sure that the city is safe and that the city is secure,” Morse tells TIME. “[The shooting] was a very, very unfortunate incident. It’s something that we focus on every day, not only in the French Quarter, but in neighborhoods across the city.”

Morse said the city has increased security as a result of last weekend’s shooting, which left one dead and nine injured after two gunmen opened fire on the ever-packed Bourbon Street in the Crescent City’s famed French Quarter. The shooting was the third in the past three years on the famous street, the Associated Press reports, but it couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time—just days ahead of the 20th annual Essence Music Festival, where headliners like Prince and Lionel Richie are expected to bring thousands to the city.

As a precaution, 30 state troopers have reportedly been deployed in the city and Morse says the city is working to reassure festival-goers and New Orleans residents that they will be safe.

“We’ve got the security in place. We’ve informed all of our hotels,” Morse says. “This is a great place, it is safe and they’ll have a great experience this weekend.”

Though the focus of the Essence Music Festival is family fun and empowerment, there will be moments throughout the weekend that address the violence that plagues New Orleans. Mayor Mitch Landrieu has overseen a reduction in the number of murders from 193 in 2012 to 155 in 2013, thanks in large part to the city’s community outreach through the NOLA for Life initiative. But Morse says there’s still a lot of work to be done, and that the Essence Festival is the perfect time to address the issue.

“New Orleans is going to be 300-years-old in 2018, but we’ve got a situation right now that we’ve got to get our arms around and that is bringing down the rate of murder, particularly among African American men,” Morse says. “There’s no better time or place than Essence to take that issue head on.”

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: July 2

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

In the News: Poll says Obama worst President since WW2; Palestinian teen dies in possible revenge killing; Tim Howard had best World Cup match, despite loss; and Obama to Congress "sue me"

  • Iraq reinforcements: Return of the “5 o’clock follies”? [TIME]
  • The Bill and Hillary Clinton money machine taps corporate cash [WSJ]
  • Protesters in Murrieta, Calif. halt buses in tense standoff [LA Times]
  • Palestinian kid killed in possible revenge killing [Reuters]
  • How would Chuck Norris vote? [NYT Magazine]
  • Why the Civil Rights Act couldn’t pass today [Politico]
  • Obama blasts Congressional inaction: “So sue me” [TIME]
  • US turning the screws on tax cheats [The Hill]
  • Hong Kong police arrest democracy protestors in sit-in [BBC]
  • “The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA)’s data collection program has been an effective tool to enhance the country’s security but some elements of the cyber-spying raises privacy concerns, a U.S. federal privacy watchdog said in a report.” [Reuters]
  • “A plurality of voters think Barack Obama is the worst president since World War II, a new poll says. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, 33 percent of voters think the current president is the worst since 1945.” [Politico]
  • Benghazi suspect organized attack out of ideological fervor, prosecutors say [Washington Post]
  • Many sharp turns in Bergdahl’s path the Army [NYT]
  • “The Federal Trade Commission accused wireless carrier T-Mobile of adding bogus charges totaling “hundreds of millions of dollars” on customers’ accounts without their consent.” [USA Today]
  • Tim Howard lost, but he had the best match of the World Cup [FiveThirtyEight]
TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: July 1

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

In the News: Hobby Lobby happened, what's next; Obama to issue executive action on immigration; GM issues another recall; Israel bombs Gaza after teen bodies found; and confidence in Obama falls.

  • White House chooses Congressional fight over Hobby Lobby decision [TIME]
  • How John Roberts’ court is slowly bridging the political divide [TIME]
  • Get ready for an even bigger threat to Obamacare [LA Times]
  • Obama’s immigration pivot [Politico]
  • “General Motors Co. recalled another 8.5 million vehicles on Monday, including more than 8 million for ignition-switch defects, and said it knew of three deaths in accidents involving the affected cars.” [WSJ]
  • “Victims of General Motors’ faulty ignition switch could get as little as a few thousand dollars, or as much as millions of dollars, according to Kenneth Feinberg, who detailed on Monday the GM fund he’ll oversee to compensate for deaths and injuries.” [USA Today]
  • Fighting intensifies in Ukraine after cease-fire is ended [NYT]
  • Poll: Confidence in Obama trails rating for Bush in 2006 [RealClearPolitics]
  • Parties looking for political edge in Supreme Court contraceptive ruling [TIME]
  • Israeli bombs Gaza site hours after bodies of Israeli teens found [Reuters]
  • “A senior Israeli government official on Monday likened Hamas to the brutal fighters sowing chaos in Iraq and said there could be no dealing with a Palestinian government that includes the group, just hours after three Israeli teenagers believed to have been kidnapped by Hamas were found dead.” [TIME]
TIME Television

Things Just Got Steamy Between Jason & Eric on True Blood

Ryan Kwanten
Ryan Kwanten arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of the 7th and final season of "True Blood" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Richard Shotwell—Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Jason Stackhouse had an epic dream

Before the credits rolled on the second episode of the HBO hit True Blood’s final season Sunday, fans of the vampire drama got two surprises. One, Bon Temps’ (arguably) hottest vampire Eric Northman was seen alive (!!) and he and the fictional Louisiana town’s hottest resident were finally getting it on.

It was the stuff of legend. After a bit of teasing—a belt buckle tug, a playful tackle—the two were rolling around lustfully, and making out with a bajillion candles flickering behind them.

Just when thing got really interesting, Jason Stackhouse woke up in the pew of a church—bewildered, and a little turned on.

It wasn’t the show’s first vampire-on-man sex scene (remember Bill and Sam Merlotte in the shower? Or Jason and Warlow’s sexy shave set to the sultry sounds of Miguel?), but it was certainly the most surprising. And it was probably the highlight of Sunday night’s lackluster episode.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: June 30

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

In the News: Blackwater warning came before shooting; Obama defends Clinton amid wealth comments; Facebook manipulated your newsfeed; Obama to tap P&G chief to head VA

  • Before shooting in Iraq, a warning on Blackwater [NYT]
  • Obama to tap soap salesman to clean up VA [TIME]
  • “The extremist Sunni group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) on Sunday declared a new caliphate — or an Islamic state to claim dominion over Muslims across the globe — on the territory it holds in the two countries.” [TIME]
  • ” The U.S. Justice Department is expected to announce on Monday a settlement with BNP Paribas involving a record fine of nearly $9 billion over alleged U.S. sanctions violations by France’s biggest bank, sources familiar with the matter said.” [Reuters]
  • Supreme Court poised to rule on O-care’s birth control mandate [The Hill]
  • Background From TIME: Hobby Lobby’s contraception showdown [TIME]
  • Big Unions could take a big SCOTUS hit [Politico]
  • White House to seek $2 billion to stem rise of kids crossing the border illegally [TIME]
  • “President Barack Obama doesn’t believe comments made by his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about how she and former President Bill Clinton were ‘not only dead broke but in debt’ when they exited the White House will matter too much if she chooses to run for president.” [ABC News]
  • Everything we know about Facebook’s secret mood manipulation experiment [The Atlantic]
  • The pitchforks are coming for us plutocrats [Politico Magazine]
  • Psych evaluation: Oscar Pistorius not mentally incapacitated during shooting [CNN]

 

TIME intelligence

New NSA Chief: Snowden Didn’t Do That Much Damage

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is interviewed by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong
NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden in a still image taken from video during an interview by the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong on June 6, 2013 Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras—The Guardian/Reuters

Says leaks don't mean "the sky is falling"

The head of the National Security Agency says in a new interview that the massive leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden didn’t do irreparable damage to national security.

“You have not heard me as the director say, ‘Oh, my God, the sky is falling,’” Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the new NSA director, told the New York Times in an interview published Sunday. “I am trying to be very specific and very measured in my characterizations.”

But Rogers did say terrorist groups have been using the leaked data to their advantage. “I have seen groups not only talk about making changes, I have seen them make changes,” he said.

While at the NSA, Snowden was able to downloaded more than one million secret documents that detailed the agency’s wide-ranging surveillance efforts. Rogers said he’s working to ensure leaks will not happen again, but does not rule out the possibility. The key, he said, is to keep the volume of stolen data from reaching that of Snowden’s.

“Am I ever going to sit here and say as the director that with 100 percent certainty no one can compromise our systems from the inside?” he said. “Nope. Because I don’t believe that in the long run.”

[NYT]

TIME Music

Robin Thicke Made Yet Another Plea to Win His Wife Back

Robin Thicke
Robin Thicke performs at the BET Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Sunday, June 29, 2014, in Los Angeles. Chris Pizzello—Chris Pizzello—Invision—AP

If at first you don't succeed, try again

Robin Thicke made yet another plea for his estranged wife Paula Patton during Sunday’s BET Awards, debuting a song from his upcoming album “Forever Love.”

Thicke’s plea could have been considered heartfelt, given the endless fog, breaks for tears, and the opening dedication “to my wife to say I miss you, and I’m sorry,” but the video for his single “Get Her Back” is still fresh.

Later in the evening, the “Blurred Lines” crooner turned king of sorry tweeted a picture of the couple back when they were still happy.

Keep trying, Robin. If all the singing doesn’t work, hopefully the sales from your strategically-named album, Paula, will be of comfort.

TIME justice

From Big House to White House: Ex-Convicts To Be Honored By Obama Administration

Fortune HIV AIDS
In this May 29, 2014 photo, Stan Richards, right, an executive with the Fortune Society, listens as Melissa Carter, left, speaks during an interview in New York. Bebeto Matthews—AP

The White House will honor 14 champions for change on prisoner reentry Monday

Stanley Richards is living proof that giving ex-offenders a second chance can pay off.

Richards grew up amid the drug and gang epidemic that terrorized black communities in early 1980s New York, and spent more time on the streets than in school. After bouncing in and out of jail as a teen, he eventually caught a charge that stuck and was sentenced to nine years in prison for robbery. After serving his time, and collecting a GED an associates degree while behind bars, he wanted to turn his life around. “I began to believe life could be different for me,” Richards says. “Just maybe, through education, things could get better.”

Upon his release, he sought employment at several community organizations but kept getting doors slammed in his face due to his lack of experience. Eventually, the Fortune Society, a Bronx-based non-profit that supports successful reentry, was the exception; it hired Richards as a counselor. And after 23 years of employment and several promotions, Richards will be one of 14 honored by the White House on Monday as a Champion of Change for prisoner reentry.

Richards will be joined at the White House by state lawmakers, business leaders and others, who are gathering to discuss how to reduce recidivism by offering more opportunities for the ex-offender population.

The Obama Administration has been rolling out prison reform policies over the past year in an effort to cut America’s prison budget and save the toughest penalties for the worst criminals. The Administration is also working to provide retroactive relief to some criminals impacted by harsh federal drug laws that have since been reformed. Attorney General Eric Holder announced in April that some prisoners could be eligible for a shortened sentence as a result; the Department of Justice is expecting thousands of applications for clemency this year.

The statistics, as they now stand, are not encouraging. Nearly 68% of released prisoners return to prison within three years. After five years, 76.6% of prisoners are back behind bars, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

There are solutions, however, and states have been leading the way in implementing them. In fact, the Council of State Governments’s “State Pathways to Prosperity” initiative, which is working to smarten states’ approach to criminal justice across all branches of government, was a driving inspiration behind Monday’s White House panel.

The states that are making progress have focused on finding employment and stable housing for ex-convicts when they are released. In Pennsylvania, an overhaul of halfway houses and other corrections facilities has already led to a 24% reduction in recidivism among those who pass through facilities with state contracts. “We’re trying to transform the system by looking at the needs of the community and the needs of offenders,” says John Wetzel, the Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, who will be a part of a White House panel Monday to discuss best practices.

Rhode Island Department of Corrections is ramping up its partnership with the state’s Department of Labor to employ offenders upon their release. The director of corrections in Rhode Island, A.T. Wall, has been working in corrections for 38 years, and calls employment and housing the “twin pillars of effective reintegration.” “I have an opportunity to spend a lot of time in our institutions, talking to inmates shortly before release,” Wall says. “When I ask them ‘what do you need,’ the overwhelming majority say ‘I need a job.'”

While the need for ex-offender employment and housing opportunities is obvious to corrections officers, and increasingly lawmakers, private employers and landlords still have to buy in to the idea for it work. And many have been reluctant. “Some employers say it would be wreck less to hire ex-offenders, but wouldn’t it be just as wreck less to say no to employing someone just because they were in state prison?” Wetzel says. “One thing we’ve recognized is that when you have a good outcome in corrections and you can place someone in a job–that’s grassroots crime reduction.”

The Johns Hopkins Hospital system, which will be recognized as a Champion of Change Monday, has been leading the way in employing those with criminal histories. Of the 5,000 people they hired last year, 5% had criminal records. The key, says Pamela Paulk, senior Vice President of Human Resources at Johns Hopkins, is the screening and thoughtful placement of all hires. Recruiters work with the security team, head up by a former Secret Service agent, to make sure potential hires would be a good match for a certain job, depending on what crime they committed.

“We’re not going to put someone with a drug history in the pharmacy department,” Paulk says. The hospitals hiring guidelines also prohibit employing people who have committed violent crimes; those with sex-related histories do not work near patients.

Paulk says she hopes Monday’s event will increase dialogue among hiring managers. “We need more employers willing to expand hiring opportunities,” she says. “Jobs are what ‘s going to help with reducing the recidivism rate.”

For, Richards, who plans to bring his wife, youngest son, and nine-year-old grandson on Monday, it’s a bit more personal. “I’m from the big house to the White House,” Richards says. “That’s pretty powerful.”

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