TIME States

These States Produced the Most Peace Corps Volunteers in 2014

Vermont is "Peace Corps heaven"

Vermont produced the most Peace Corps volunteers per capita than any other state in 2014.

According USA Today, for every 100,000 Vermont residents there are 7.8 volunteers—more than any other state. The second largest proportion of volunteers comes from Washington, D.C., where there are 6.7 volunteers for every 100,000 residents.

Volunteers from the storied government organization travel to areas around the globe to serve communities in the most need.

USA Today reports Vermont has taken the spot three times in the past five years. “Vermont is the happy hunting ground for Peace Corps. It really is Peace Corps heaven,” Elizabeth Chamberlain, spokeswoman for Peace Corps Northeast Regional Recruitment Office, told USA Today.

California, however, tops the list of states that produce the most total volunteers. In 2014, 926 Peace Corps members came from California, followed by New York, Washington, Florida, and Texas.

[USA Today]

TIME justice

Bill Clinton Says Eric Garner ‘Didn’t Deserve to Die’

The Thelonius Monk Jazz Trumpet Competition And All Star Gala Concert
Michael Tran—FilmMagic/Getty Images Bill Clinton speaks onstage during The Thelonius Monk Jazz Trumpet Competition and All Star Gala concert held at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. on Nov. 9, 2014.

“He was selling untaxed cigarettes on the street in small volumes, trying to make a little extra money."

Former President Bill Clinton is set to address the Eric Garner case in a Tuesday interview with cable TV channel Fusion, saying that the unarmed black man from Staten Island, N.Y. did not deserve to die for allegedly selling cigarettes on the street.

“He was doing something he should not have been doing. That was illegal,” Clinton said during the interview. “He was selling untaxed cigarettes on the street in small volumes, trying to make a little extra money. But he didn’t deserve to die because of that.”

Clinton spoke to Fusion during the Clinton Foundation’s “Future of the Americas” summit in Miami last week. Protests have continued in the days since a New York City grand jury opted not to indict a white police officer who subdued Garner in what appeared to be a chokehold, leading to his eventual death. The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, has denied using a chokehold.

Read more Selma Cast and Crew Wear ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Shirts to New York Premiere

Over the weekend, thousands of protestors took to the streets in Washington, D.C. and New York to show their discontent with the way police often treat brown and black people.

Clinton added there are “preconceptions wired into us and we have got to get beyond them,” when talking about race relations in America.

The full interview is set to air on Tuesday at 10p.m.

[Fusion]

Read next: Poll: 57% of Americans Say Grand Jury Wrong Not to Indict Cop in Garner Case

TIME celebrities

Brad Pitt Leads Hollywood Criticism of Media After Sony Email Leak

"We shouldn't be participating and these sites that are disseminating them should stop."

Correction appended

Hollywood stars are pushing back against the highly-publicized leaking of hacked Sony emails, with Brad Pitt, Seth Rogen and writer Aaron Sorkin blasting the media for reporting sensitive information stolen from the Hollywood studio.

“I was just saying that I don’t see a difference in News Corp hacking phone calls and hacking e-mails. I don’t think we should be able to participate,” Pitt said on Monday, Yahoo reports.

Pitt, who was speaking at the premiere of his wife Angelina Jolie’s new film Unbroken, continued: “I think someone’s conversation, whether in e-mail or in person, should be private. We shouldn’t be participating and these sites that are disseminating them should stop. They won’t. And we should stop reading them. We won’t. It’s more of an indictment on us, I think.”

Jolie was the subject of a particularly scathing email released in the hack, in which producer Scott Rudin called the actress a “minimally talented spoiled brat.”

Pitt’s sentiments echo those of writer Aaron Sorkin, who penned a harsh op-ed in the New York Times against the hackers. On Tuesday, he said the leak was worse than a recent iCloud hack that had led to the leaking of several celebrities’ naked images.

“There are certainly times when the press should, has an obligation to publish things that are stolen,” Sorkin said on the TODAY show. “Is there anything in these emails at all that’s in the public interest? There isn’t, there’s just gossip there.”

A chorus of Hollywood stars have blasted the email leak, including Seth Rogen, whose upcoming movie The Interview, is largely believed to be the reason for the hacking of Sony Pictures’ networks. The film centers on a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Rogen said the media had no right to report on “stolen information” during a recent appearance on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM radio show. “I think it’s f–ked up that anyone is talking about it,” he said. Stern added that if North Korea is behind the leak it’s “no different than a 9/11-type attack.”

“I can’t believe people are just so happy be like, ‘Look at this stolen information,” Rogen went on to say. “[The email authors] are not doing anything illegal. They’re not trying to fool you as the consumer. They’re having private correspondence with one another.”

Correction: This post originally misattributed a quote comparing the Sony Pictures leak to 9/11. Howard Stern made that remark.

TIME Congress

How Congress’ Spending Bill Will Keep School Lunches Salty

Getty Images

School cafeterias were supposed to cut sodium in half by 2022

A massive spending bill is heading to the President’s desk this week, and along with it comes a stab at the healthy school food policies championed by First Lady Michelle Obama.

The 2010 healthy food guidelines that call for more fresh fruit and whole grains and fewer French fries and sugary treats on the lunch trays of America’s students have sparked ire in cafeterias for the past couple of years. Hashtags were spawned (#ThanksMichelle). Congress was petitioned. Op-eds were penned. And, on Saturday, those calling for a rollback of some provisions of the Hunger Free Healthy Kids Act got their wish.

Though the program remains in tact and schools cannot opt out of it as some Republicans had hoped, 2015 spending bill includes language that curbs any further reduction of sodium in school lunches “until the latest scientific research establishes the reduction is beneficial for children.” By the 2022 school year, schools were required to serve meals with less than 740 mg of sodium—roughly equivalent to a six-piece chicken nugget kid’s meal with a side of fries at Burger King and about half of the levels currently allowed under the current guidelines.

The spending bill also allows states to get exemptions a requirement to serve 100% whole grains (though half of grains served must be whole) they show they’re facing “hardship” in efforts to implement it.

School Nutrition Association communications director Diane Pratt-Heavner says the association, which represents 55,000 school lunch providers, appreciates Congress for recognizing the challenges districts have faced in efforts to implement all of the rules.

“A few of the rules are so inflexible,” says Pratt-Heavner, who notes that over 50% of school lunch providers expect to spend more on healthy meals than they’ll make this year. “They’re driving kids away from healthy school meals and threatening the stability of the programs.”

It’s been nearly a year since the Government Accountability Office found that over 1 million students opted out of the school lunch program under the government’s changes to school meals. Without the starchy snacks like pizza and French fries dominating lunch trays, 1.6 million students who pay full price for lunch decided not to. The new changes, Pratt-Heavner says, will allow school lunchrooms to have the same flexibility as households.

“Schools, just like families, should be able to occasionally serve white rice or white tortillas,” she says.

The White House has not cried wolf over the changes, either. The Hill reports Sam Kass, who will soon leave his position as White House chef, called the changes a “minor adjustment” they consider a “real win for kids and parents” in light of other efforts to roll back the standards.

Health advocates including the American Heart Association, however, have blasted the sodium changes, which it says, “threatens the future health of our children, ”while citing a 2010 Institute of Medicine report that recommended incremental changes to high-salt school meals in order to reduce health risks like high blood pressure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90% of American kids ages 6 to 18 eat too much salt, and 1 in 6 kids currently have elevated blood pressure.

“It’s important to note that the average school lunch provides nearly enough sodium for the entire day, the American Heart Association said in a statement. “Without this reduction, more of our children will develop high blood pressure that could lead to heart disease and stroke before they reach adulthood.”

Either way it goes, the changes introduced via the spending bill are just a first step. Next year, the Hunger-Free Healthy Kids Act will need to be reauthorized, providing an opportunity for the implementation of more stringent rollbacks.

TIME

Watch Shonda Rhimes’ Amazing Speech on the ‘Glass Ceiling’

"When it was my turn to run," Rhimes said Wednesday, "It didn’t even look like a ceiling anymore."

Shonda Rhimes is a game-changer; there’s really no disputing the fact that she has made an immense impact the portrayals of women in Hollywood. But yesterday, as the executive producer behind some of primetime television’s most popular shows accepted the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Women in Entertainment breakfast, she said denied breaking any “glass ceilings.”

In her moving speech, Rhimes jokingly evoked Beyonce to explain why she couldn’t be getting an award simply because she is both a woman and African American.

I come from a very large, very competitive family. Extremely competitive. And by competitive, I mean, my mother says we’re not allowed to play Scrabble anymore when we get together because of the injuries and the tears. One of the rules in my family is you don’t ever get a trophy for participation, you don’t get a trophy for just being you. So getting an award today BECAUSE I’m a woman and an African-American feels…I was born with an awesome vagina and really gorgeous brown skin. I didn’t do anything to make either of those things happen.

To get all Beyonce about it, people: “I woke up like this.”

Rhimes said that the honor, which has also been bestowed upon powerhouses including Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters, Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep, was also being given to her because of the “glass ceiling that exists in the face of being a woman and being black in this very male, very white town.”

But in her mind, she hasn’t broken any glass ceilings at all. “When it was my turn to run,” Rhimes said Wednesday, “It didn’t even look like a ceiling anymore.”

How many women had to hit that glass before the first crack appeared? How many cuts did they get, how many bruises? How hard did they have to hit the ceiling? How many women had to hit that glass to ripple it, to send out a thousand hairline fractures? How many women had to hit that glass before the pressure of their effort caused it to evolve from a thick pane of glass into just a thin sheet of splintered ice?

She added, “Making it through the glass ceiling to the other side was simply a matter of running on a path created by every other woman’s footprints. I just hit at exactly the right time in exactly the right spot.”

Rhimes’ speech appears in full on Medium under the title “On Ceilings Made of Glass.” Watch her deliver the speech at Wednesday’s event below.

TIME Immigration

Activist Hailed as Face of Immigration Action Makes Her Case Before Congress

Astrid Silva Immigration Activist
Larry Downing—Reuters Immigration activist Astrid Silva (in red) stands next to her mother, Barbara Silva, as she speaks about immigration reform at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 10, 2014.

Astrid Silva joined a panel of witnesses at a hearing on Obama's immigration action plan Wednesday

Just three weeks ago, Astrid Silva didn’t know if this holiday season would be the last one she’d get to spend with her father.

Silva, 26, immigrated to America from Mexico with her parents when she was just four years old, crossing the Rio Grande in a homemade tire raft. Though she is currently exempt from deportation under a 2010 law that defers action on illegal immigrants who arrived as children, her parents are not. Her younger brother was born in the U.S. and is therefore a citizen.

Her father has an order of deportation against him and though his immigration has been stayed since 2011, he’s up again in January. This time around, Silva says, he’s much less worried. In fact, after President Obama’s announcement that he would be providing temporary relief from deportation to 5 million people, she and her family began to experience another emotion: hope.

“He’s going to be worried until there’s a law, but he’s very—he’s relieved,” Silva told TIME Wednesday. “He doesn’t have to wake up and think ‘Immigration is going to be there when I go out for work.’”

But on Wednesday, frustration was the emotion she hoped would come across as she appeared in Washington, before a Congressional committee. Wearing a bright red blazer, adorned with a button depicting a close family friend and “dream warrior” Tomasa Macias, Silva passionately defended the President’s action on immigration reform in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“When people attack the President for this action or challenge his legal authority—the same authority that Republican and Democratic presidents have taken before him, they are attacking me,” Silva said during her prepared remarks. “They are attacking the hundreds of thousands of children who need their parents to care for them and tell them that there are no monsters under the bed.”

Like many undocumented immigrants across the U.S., Silva watched the President’s Nov. 20 announcement with her family by her side. But Silva’s experience was a bit different. During the speech, the President gave Silva a shout-out, sharing her story as an undocumented immigrant who went on to college and become an activist in her community with the nation. She was hailed as the “face of Obama’s immigration action” in the Las Vegas Sun on Wednesday, but to Silva, she’s just one of many.

“I may be a face but there’s millions just like us,” Silva told TIME. “Just like me.”

And it was their stories, Silva said, that she hoped to share with the Senators on the committee.

“I’m 26 and I’m afraid that my parents will be deported,” Silva said. “I can’t imagine the six year old, seven year old living in that fear.”

TIME Military

Air Force Secretary Eyes Review of Transgender Ban

Secretary Of The Air Force Deborah Lee James Speaks On State Of The Air Force
Alex Wong—Getty Images U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James speaks during the 2014 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center Sept. 15, 2014, in National Harbor, Md.

“Times change,” said Deborah Lee

U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee said in a recent interview she wouldn’t be surprised if the military’s ban on transgender men and women were to come under review soon.

“Times change,” Lee said in an interview with USA Today. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens there.”

Though gays and lesbians have been allowed to openly serve in the military since the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed in 2011, the ban on transgender troops remained in place. Many have called for the military to lift the ban, including a commission led by a former U.S. surgeon general. In March, the commission released a report that read, in part, “there’s no compelling medical reason for the ban, but also that the ban itself is an expensive, damaging and unfair barrier to health care access for the approximately 15,450 transgender personnel who serve currently in the active, Guard and reserve components.”

Lee said that all those who can and want to serve should be able to. “From my point of view, anyone who is capable of accomplishing the job should be able to serve,” she said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this doesn’t come under review.”

[USA Today]

TIME intelligence

Dick Cheney Says Senate Torture Report Is ‘Full of Crap’

“It's a terrible piece of work”

In an interview that aired on Fox News Wednesday, former Vice President Dick Cheney called the recently released report on the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11 a “terrible piece of work.”

“It’s a classic example of what you see too often in Washington where a group of politicians get together and sort of throw the professionals under the bus,” Cheney said.

He called the report, which found that the CIA misled the White House and used practices that could be classified as torture on detainees, “deeply flawed,” noting that the Senate Democrats that wrote the report did not interview any key subjects.

“We did exactly what needed to be done in order to catch those who were guilty on 9/11 and prevent a further attack,” Cheney said. “We were successful on both parts.”

He added, when the anchor pressed him on the fact that the report found otherwise, “The report is full of crap, excuse me.”

[Fox News]

TIME remembrance

Melissa Rivers Speaks Publicly for the First Time Since Joan Rivers’ Death

Television personality Melissa Rivers arrives at The Hollywood Reporter's 23rd annual Women in Entertainment breakfast,  in Los Angeles
Jonathan Alcorn—Reuters Television personality Melissa Rivers arrives at The Hollywood Reporter's 23rd annual Women in Entertainment breakfast, in Los Angeles, California Dec. 10, 2014

Melissa Rivers gave a speech at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Women in Entertainment breakfast to honor her mother

Joan Rivers wasn’t the only one in her family who was good for a laugh. During her first public speech since the death of her mother, Melissa Rivers joked that she’s now an orphan.

The 46-year-old actress said that when she was approached to speak at the Hollywood Reporter‘s annual Women in Entertainment breakfast, which celebrated the release of the magazine’s power 100 list, she was “overwhelmed.”

“Not just because it is the first time I’m speaking in tribute to my mother, but because every single person in this room could hire me, and a few have actually fired me. You know who you are but I don’t want you to feel bad … but technically I am now an orphan,” Rivers said Wednesday.

The past three months have been “different,” she said, adding that she’ll remember her mother as being “fearless.”

“I don’t mean she didn’t have any fears,” said Rivers. “I mean that although she was only 5’2″, she stood tall and walked through them,” she said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “She was willing to say what others were thinking and too frightened to admit. She never apologized for a joke and no topic was taboo and she was fine with that.”

[THR]

TIME People

Sailor Survives Being Stranded at Sea for 12 Days

The fish he caught to eat "wasn’t as good as a sushi bar"

A sailor who had been missing since Thanksgiving and found south of Hawaii on Tuesday has returned to shore, Coast Guard officials said Wednesday, days after the search had been called off.

Ron Ingraham is an experienced sailor but sent out distress calls on a recent trip between the Hawaiian islands of Molokai and Lanai, alerting maritime officials that his boat was in danger of sinking, according to a Coast Guard report about his rescue. After a hard wave hit his 25-foot vessel, knocking him off and damaging his radio, he towed himself back to the boat. But after the search came up empty, it was called off.

On Tuesday, however, Ingraham sent a mayday call that saved his life. Coast Guard officials responded and found Ingraham weak, hungry, and dehydrated.

He was able to subside on his boat for 12 days by catching fish, Ingraham told ABC News. “It wasn’t as good as a sushi bar, but that’s how I hydrated.”

[ABC News]

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