TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: May 9

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

In the News: The White House residence has solar panels; House establishes select committee on Benghazi; U.S. officials arrive in Nigeria to aid search; FEC allows PACs to accept bitcoin

  • A Benghazi Scandal that’s already been revealed: The CIA believed a media mistake [TIME]
  • House votes to establish select committee on Benghazi [Fox News]
  • “Democratic members of the US House of Representatives are weighing whether to participate in a new investigation of the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, or boycott the election-year inquiry of a tragedy they accuse Republicans of politicising. Party leaders will meet rank-and-file members on Friday to decide the next step…” [Al Jazeera]
  • “President Obama will promote his record on energy efficiency on Friday by touting several initiatives he says are taking hold across the country – as well as the completion of one very close to home. After years of delay, solar panels have been installed on the first family’s residence at the White House, according to aides, who say Obama will make the announcement at a speech in Mountain View, Calif., on Friday.” [LA Times]
  • Six Democrats decide to reject Senate plan to overhaul Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac [Bloomberg]
  • FEC voted to allow political committees to accept small amounts of bitcoin [Reuters]
  • U.S. officials arrive in Nigeria to aid in search for missing girls [CNN]
  • House to hold hearing on D.C. marijuana policy [AP]
  • Recalled cars roam the roads as federal legislation stalls [NYT]
  • The woman who is likely to oversee the ongoing implementation of the Obama administration’s healthcare law faced little opposition from Republicans at her first confirmation hearing Thursday, as they focused on her qualifications to serve rather than the law they uniformly despise.” [TIME]


TIME Crime

Elderly Georgia Man Found Beheaded, Wife Still Missing

Russell Dermond's headless body was discovered by worried friends after he and his wife failed to attend a party and answer calls. Authorities worry his wife Shirley, 87, may have been abducted

Federal authorities have joined the investigation of the brutal murder of an elderly Georgia man and the disappearance of his wife, CNN reports.

Russell Dermond, 88, was found decapitated in his suburban Atlanta home on Tuesday by friends concerned about his and his wife’s whereabouts. Shirley Dermond is reportedly missing, while Dermond’s head has not yet been recovered.

The gated community where the couple shared a million-dollar home is typically safe, authorities and residents have told news outlets. But when the Dermonds failed to attend a Kentucky Derby party last weekend, friends and neighbors grew worried.

Investigators, however, do not believe the act was random. Valuables including wallets, a purse, and both of their cellphones were found in the house. Shirley Dermond, 87, is described as a 5-foot-2 gray haired woman who weighs about 148 pounds. Authorities believe she was abducted and have begun searching for her.

“I don’t think it’s a random incident,” Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said, according to CNN. “I think for whatever reason these people were singled out for this.”


TIME Nigeria

U.S. Team Arrives in Nigeria to Aid Search for Missing Girls

Military advisers, negotiators, and counselors arrived in Lagos on Friday to join search for an estimated 276 girls who were abducted by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria last month

A group of U.S. military advisers, negotiators, and counselors arrived in Nigeria on Friday to aid in the search for over 200 girls abducted by Islamist militants in April, the BBC reports.

“Our inter-agency team is hitting the ground in Nigeria now and they are going to be working in concert with President Goodluck Jonathan’s government to do everything that we possibly can to return these girls to their families and their communities,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.

The U.S. team was dispatched to help rescue the girls amid mounting pressure from the global community and the girls’ parents to bring them home. The Nigerian government has been accused of lagging in their search efforts since around 300 girls were abducted from a school in mid April.

Though some have reportedly escaped, some 276 girls are still missing. The girls are reportedly being held deep in a dense forest, by the terrorist group Boko Haram, whose leaders claimed responsibility for their capture this week and threatened to sell them.


TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: May 8

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

In the News: Pro-Russia separatists defy Putin; Rep. Trey Gowdy on Benghazi; Climate report won't make Americans care; and what's prettier in print

  • Inside Putin’s East European spy campaign [TIME]
  • “The main pro-Russian separatist groups in eastern Ukraine decided on Thursday to go ahead with a referendum on secession set for Sunday,defying an appeal from Russian President Vladimir Putin a day earlier to postpone the vote to facilitate dialogue with the government in Kiev.” [WSJ]
  • Rep. Trey Gowdy: Benghazi needs deeper scrutiny [USA Today]
  • Keystone, Inc: “Funded by multibillion-dollar oil companies, labor unions and ultrarich environmentalists, the fight has filtered into every crack and crevice of the nation’s capital — all for a project some advocates on both sides privately concede wouldn’t be an environmental or economic game-changer.” [Politico]
  • Climate change is already here, but that won’t make Americans care [TIME]
  • Florida finds itself in the eye of the storm on climate change [NYT]
  • Janet Yellen: Economy improving, but housing a concern [Christian Science Monitor]
  • The troubled search for Nigeria’s stolen girls [New Yorker]
  • Black mobility belies U.S. civil rights hopes as milestone nears [Bloomberg]
  • This former cocaine kingpin is lobbying Congress to let him keep his cheetahs (and liger ) [Mother Jones]
  • Your broadband company may be holding your internet access hostage [TIME]

Prettier in print:



TIME 2014 Election

2014 Midterm Elections Projected to Bring 25% Fewer Latino Voters to Polls

A key group projects 7.8 million Latino voters will cast ballots in 2014, a number that is about 25% lower than the 2012 Presidential election.

About 25 percent fewer Latino voters will turn out to vote in the 2014 midterm elections than did in the 2012 presidential race, according to new projections released by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO)

The projections reflect the nation’s general disinterest in midterm elections, which is typically more dramatic among young, minority, and single-women voters. But the total Latino vote is still projected to be higher than it was in the last midterm election in 2010, not because a greater share of Latino voters will be voting, but rather because the total Latino population has grown in the last four years.

About 7.8 million Latino voters are projected to cast ballots in 2014, according to NALEO, representing about 8% of the nation’s total electorate. That would be 18.8% higher than the turnout during the 2010 midterm election, when about 6.64 million Latinos voted. But the numbers are a far cry from the 11.2 million Latino American adults who cast ballots in 2012. In both 2010 and 2014, the association predicts that about 30% of eligible voters will show up at the polls, down from 48% of eligible Latino voters who turned out in the 2012 presidential contest.

Arturo Vargas, the executive director of NALEO says he hopes the stalling on immigration reform incites the Latino community into action. “It’s my hope that there would be a sense of anger among Latinos that leads them to take action and to vote,” said Vargas during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday.

NALEO estimates about 50,000 Latinos turn 18 every month and by November there will be 28.8 million eligible Latino voters in the U.S. on Election Day in 2014. Yet many, Vargas said, don’t feel engaged with the democratic process, and lack faith in the system. Many others simply don’t know where or how to register to vote. “There’s a crisis in American democracy when you have 25 million U.S. citizens not voting,” Vargas said at an event Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

But Vargas said the problem is only made worse by protections for existing voters being in jeopardy, with the bill to amend the Voting Rights Act stalled in Congress. On Tuesday, NALEO issued a report on the importance of the Voting Rights Act Amendment to Latino voters.

Vargas and NALEO are calling on Congress to restore the voting protections offered under the Voting Rights Act, given that about 7 million Latinos that are eligible to vote live in places that were previously covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. “We lost the most powerful voter protection tool,” Vargas said Tuesday.


TIME Environment

Obama to Arkansas Tornado Survivors: Your Country Is Here For You

Barack Obama Vilonia, Arkansas Tornado
President Barack Obama tours tornado-damaged areas and talks with Daniel Smith and his sons Garrison Dority and Gabriel Dority in Vilonia, Ark. on May 7, 2014. Susan Walsh—AP

President Barack Obama toured areas in Arkansas on Wednesday that were destroyed by forceful tornadoes in late April, promising support to residents: "Your country is going to be here for you"

President Obama told residents of an Arkansas town blasted by tornadoes in late April that the federal government will have their backs throughout the rebuilding process.

“Your country is going to be here for you,” Obama said during a press conference Wednesday. The President spent Wednesday touring areas destroyed by severe weather including Vilonia, Ark. just outside of Little Rock. The April 27 storms killed 15 and left hundreds of homes ruined.

On Wednesday, Obama praised the people of Arkansas for their strength in his promises to provide support. “Folks here are tough,” Obama said. “They look out for one another … that’s been especially true this past week.”


Same-Sex Couple Sues Alabama to Have Marriage Recognized

The two plaintiffs claim the state's ban on same-sex marriage is a violation of the U.S. Constitution

A same-sex couple in Alabama has filed a federal lawsuit seeking state recognition of their six-year marriage.

Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand married in 2008 in California, but have lived in Mobile, Ala. for over a decade, the Associated Press reports. They are also seeking for Searcy to have legal parental rights for their 8-year-old son, Khaya, who was born biologically to McKeand in 2005 but is being raised by both women.

Searcy has previously sought to adopt Khaya, but was denied because the state doesn’t recognize their marriage.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Attorney General Luther Strange are named as defendants in the suit. The state is one of 30 to have amended its constitution to recognize marriage as only between a man and a woman. Searcy and McKeand’s lawsuit claims the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

This suit is one of many that challenge state laws against same-sex marriage.



Fast Food Workers Will Go on Strike Next Week

Protesters lobby for higher wages for fast food workers and urge fast food workers from around the globe to join their campaign outside a McDonalds on May 7, 2014 in New York City.
Protesters lobby for higher wages for fast food workers and urge fast food workers from around the globe to join their campaign outside a McDonalds on May 7, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

American employees at fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC are due to join their counterparts in dozens of cities around the world on May 15 to walk off the job and demand a raise to $15-an-hour

Fast food workers frustrated by low wages will participate in an organized, global walk-out in protest next week in as many as 150 cities, an advocacy group said Wednesday.

McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC employees in the United States will demand a raise to $15-an-hour next Thursday, joined internationally by fast food employees also seeking higher pay, in as many as 33 countries.

The strike’s announcement, at a New York City McDonald’s on Wednesday, came days after fast-food workers and union leaders from across the globe came together for the first time at a meeting organized by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering and Tobacco Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF). The Manhattan-based group leading the protests, Fast Food Forward, has led a “Fight for 15″ campaign since 2012. The efforts have reportedly attracted fast food workers in Argentina, Morocco, Japan, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Dominican Republic, among others.

“The highly-profitable fast-food industry needs to know we won’t stop fighting until our voices are heard,” Ashley Cathey said in a statement. Cathey is a McDonald’s worker from Memphis, Tenn., who makes $7.75 after six years on the job.

Throughout 2013, dozens of U.S. cities saw similar demonstrations.

TIME Education

High School Seniors Lagging in Math and Reading, Report Card Shows

New federal education data shows record high school graduation rates haven't translated into higher achievement in math and reading. The Nation's Report Card revealed that between 2009 and 2013, students made no significant progress in math or reading

High school seniors haven’t made progress in math and reading achievement levels in recent years, according to a new report, a sobering counter to recent data that showed U.S. graduation rates reaching the highest levels in decades in 2013.

The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, shows that 12th graders in public schools stagnated in reading and in math in 2013. Between 2009 and 2013, students made no significant progress in math or reading, according to the report—in fact, 12th graders in 2013 performed a bit worse in reading when compared to students taking the first assessment in 1992. About 26% of high school seniors perform at or above “proficient” levels in math, meaning they grasp challenging concepts. In reading, about 38% perform at or above proficient, two percentage points less than students in 1992.

“Despite the highest high school graduation rate in our history, and despite growth in student achievement over time in elementary school and middle school, student achievement at the high school level has been flat in recent years,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.

Between 2005 and 2013, African-American students’ math scores jumped by five points and white students saw their scores go up by four points. Asian/Pacific Islander students and Hispanic students experienced the highest gains, with math scores increasing by 10 and seven points, respectively. Yet achievement gaps persist between racial groups and genders. Boys scored an average of three points higher than girls in math, and girls scored about 10 points higher in reading than boys. Whites scored 30 points higher than blacks in math and 21 points than Hispanic students. In reading, whites scored 30 points higher than blacks and 22 points higher than Hispanics.

“We project that our nation’s public schools will become majority-minority this fall—making it even more urgent to put renewed attention into the academic rigor and equity of course offerings and into efforts to redesign high schools,” Duncan said.

Students who reported discussing reading material every day or once or twice a week in class scored higher than those who reported discussing reading material only sporadically. In math, 50% of the highest performers had taken a calculus course and 58% of those who scored the lowest had only taken up to Algebra 2.


Morning Must Reads: May 7

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

In the News: TIME correspondent recalls clash with separatists in Ukraine; GOP establishment candidate wins in North Carolina; U.S. sending team to Nigeria; Keystone pipeline deal looking more unlikely; Monica Lewinsky breaks her silence

  • Obama’s shades of gray: His critics call him weak and whiny. But he’s doing what most President’s do: muddling through [TIME]
  • Ukraine’s battleground blurs the lines between civilian and fighter [TIME]
  • Senate Republicans vented their frustration over the deteriorating situation in Ukraine on Tuesday, as a panel of Obama Administration witnesses struggled to lay out how the U.S. could block Russian President Vladimir Putin from enforcing his will in the embattled country.” [TIME]
  • Establishment candidate wins North Carolina GOP primary [USA Today]
  • North Carolina was the opening battleground in the fight between the Republican Party’s two main factions, and it’s a sign the establishment’s no-holds-barred strategy is paying off. American Crossroads spent $1.6 million on behalf of Tillis, significantly more than the resources of Republican challengers Greg Brannon and Mark Harris. They aired three ads, which each touted Tillis’s conservative record and rebutted Democratic attacks against him.” [National Journal]
  • Behind the Benghazi select committee [Politico]
  • Ronald Reagan’s Benghazi [The New Yorker]
  • Monica Lewinsky: “I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened.” [Vanity Fair]
  • If and when a Clinton presidential announcement comes, Lewinsky will be old news. “It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress,” Lewinsky writes. That would be good news for both women.” [Washington Post]
  • Pipeline deal on the verge of collapsing [The Hill]
  • Syrian rebels started withdrawing from the heart of Homs city on Wednesday, leaving an early centre of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad and handing him a symbolic victory less than a month before his likely re-election.” [Reuters]
  • The unlikely ascent of Alibaba’s Jack Ma [NYT]
  • Thai court ousts Prime Minister Yingluck Sinawatra [BBC]
  • The Buffett Rule won’t pay the tab for the liberal agenda [Vox]
  • U.S. to send team to Nigeria to find kidnapped girls [TIME]
  • Nigerian schoolgirl: Boko Haram militants said ‘nothing is going to happen to you’ [TIME]





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