TIME Health Care

Mumps Outbreak Reported at University of Illinois

Nine students were diagnosed with the disease at the University of Illinois, on its Urbana-Champaign campus, after their spring break. This hit on the 45,000-student campus is the latest in a string of outbreaks across the country

Nine students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been diagnosed with mumps.

The students reportedly were all diagnosed after the university’s spring break, according to the Associated Press. The director of the McKinley Health Center at the university, Dr. Robert Palinkas, told a local paper, the News-Gazette, that a staff member could be the 10th case. All nine students had been vaccinated for mumps, but Palinkas said the vaccine is only about 80% to 85% effective.

The outbreak at the 45,000-student campus is the latest in a string of mumps infections, including a recent one in Ohio that affected dozens of Ohio State University students, faculty and community members. In Illinois, there has been a reported spike in mumps cases in 2014 with 65 confirmed cases so far this year, in contrast to 26 for all of 2013.

Widespread vaccination has helped curb the outbreak of mumps over the past several decades, but health officials have suggested swaths of unvaccinated children are helping to aide the resurgence of the disease.

[News-Gazette]

TIME Companies

Ford CEO Could Escape Company With $300 Million in Stocks, Options

You could throw one heck of a Fiesta with that much cash

Ford CEO Alan Mulally will be sitting pretty when he retires from the helm of the Detroit-based motor company. CNNMoney reports the 68-year-old CEO has about 25.7 million combined shares and stock options, worth about $419 million at current market value.

After spending the necessary cash to exercise his options, Mulally would be left with about $300 million worth of Ford shares—a notably large fortune for the CEO of an industrial company.

Mulally, who is ranked among the 12 top-paid CEOs, helped keep the decades-old automaker afloat during the recession and has led the company to a strong comeback in the years following. Though he’s only been at the helm for eight years, Mulally is expected to retire this year. A company spokesperson told CNNMoney his compensation — Mulally reportedly makes about $44.2 million in salary and bonuses — is a reflection of his hard work.

“We believe strongly in aligning executive compensation with the company’s business performance and long-term shareholder value,” said Susan Krusel. “That’s why almost 90 percent of Alan’s compensation is performance based.”

Ford profits for Q1 of this year fell when compared to the same period last year, but the company beat revenue expectations.

[Money]

TIME Marijuana

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens: Marijuana Should Be Legal

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens  Speaks At The American Law Institute Annual Meeting
Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

John Paul Stevens, the third-longest serving justice in Supreme Court history, compared federal laws prohibiting marijuana to alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and early 1930s, and said the government's fight against weed is "not worth the cost"

The federal government should legalize marijuana, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens told NPR’s Scott Simpson on Thursday. The 94-year-old former justice compared federal laws prohibiting marijuana to alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and early 1930s.

“I really think that that’s another instance of public opinion [that’s] changed,” Stevens said. “And recognize that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction.”

Stevens, the third-longest serving Justice in Supreme Court history, is currently on a promotional tour for his new book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.

“The prohibition against selling and distributing alcoholic beverages has, I think, been generally—there’s a general consensus that it was not worth the cost,” Stevens added. “I think in time that will be the general consensus with respect to this particular drug,” in reference to marijuana.

In the court of public opinion, Stevens is reportedly among the majority — 58% of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana, according to an October Gallup poll.

[NPR]

TIME

Obama Administration Wants to Better Evaluate Teacher Preparation

The administration says there isn't enough data to show how effective programs are and that needs to change

The Department of Education will restructure how it evaluates teacher preparation programs to get a clearer understanding of what teachers know when going into the profession, USA Today reports. The reforms mark another move in the Obama administration’s push to get better teachers in American schools.

“At virtually every school I go to, I ask teachers, were they prepared when they entered that school or entered the profession,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a call with reporters to preview the president’s directive, which will be unveiled Friday. “There is often a fair amount of nervous laughter … and sadly, it’s often a majority of teachers that say they weren’t prepared.”

The updated evaluations, set to be opened to public comment this summer, will mirror existing programs in a number of states, including Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee. The administration is looking for information including alumni satisfaction and the satisfaction of principals hiring teachers from specific training programs.

Such data, Duncan told reporters, don’t currently exist.

“Today, unfortunately, we get little or no information of how their graduates are doing once they enter the teaching profession,” Duncan said. “That is simply unacceptable and must change.”

The administration is also weighing reforms to some teacher preparation programs and eligibility requirements for federal grants that help students who want to teach high-need subjects in low-income areas.

[USA Today]

TIME

Morning Must Reads: April 25

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

In the News: Obama proves foreign policy critics right; Kerry warns Russia; Ukraine leaders say their trying to avoid casualties; Boehner mocks GOP on immigration; and Rand Paul courts wealthy libertarians

  • Obama’s foreign policy failures are proving his critics right [TIME]
  • On Thursday: Ukraine halts military push fearing attack from Russia: “Moscow’s saber-rattling—launching new land and air military drills—left Ukraine’s new government in a quandary: whether to risk pressing ahead with what it calls its antiterrorist operation in the restive east, or risk more bloodshed and provoking an invasion….The Pentagon called those drills “exactly the opposite of what we have been calling on the Russians to do.” [WSJ]
  • On Friday: “The Ukrainian government Friday brushed off Russian threats of intervention in a tense standoff in eastern Ukraine, declaring that Ukraine’s “anti-terrorist operation” against pro-Russian militiamen occupying government buildings would continue.Ukrainian troops clashed with pro-Russian militants at barricades and checkpoints Thursday in eastern Ukraine, with fighting centered around the breakaway city of Slovyansk, a separatist stronghold.” [Washington Post]
  • Secretary of State John Kerry gives a warning to Russia, from National Journal: “Having failed to halt a legitimate political process,” he said, “Russia has instead chosen an illegitimate, coercive armed violence to try to achieve—with the barrel of a gun and the force of the mob—what could not be achieved any other way.”
  • Congressional updates: John Boehner mocks GOP on immigration [Huffington Post]
  • “During an appearance at a local rotary club in his congressional district in Ohio, Mr. Boehner adopted the voice of what sounded like a whiny child and said of Republicans on Capitol Hill: ‘Here’s the attitude: ‘Ohhhh, don’t make me do this. Ohhhh, this is too hard.’” [Washington Times]
  • More on Boehner from Businessweek: John Boehner says so long to his friends
  • Rand Paul and wealthy libertarians connect as he weighs running: “As he has risen in prominence as a Republican presidential contender, Mr. Paul is avidly courting a small but influential cluster of wealthy libertarians. His pursuit offers an intriguing window into an eclectic network of potential donors who have made fortunes in Silicon Valley start-ups and Wall Street hedge funds, a group that could form a vital donor base if he makes a bid for the Republican nomination.” [NYT]
  • “This fall, as high school seniors prepare to apply to college, many will scan the rankings provided by U.S. News & World Report. They’ll compare colleges’ class sizes, tuition prices, the student-faculty ratio, and—potentially—their sexual-assault statistics. That is, if some members of Congress get their way. Earlier this month, a dozen House members, including two Republicans, sent a letter to U.S. News & World Report asking the publisher to include sexual-assault and prevention data in its venerated annual college rankings.” [National Journal]
  • Elizabeth Warren’s book tour: ‘Run, Liz, run!’ [Politico]
  • New Republic: Racist Nevada Rancher reveals depths of conservative white supremacism denial
  • Mississippi governor bans abortions at 20 weeks [NBC News]
  • Misdemeanor convictions are no big deal, right? Think again [TIME]
TIME Military

Military Suicides Down Overall, But National Guard Rates Up

The slight drop may be a sign that the military's efforts to curb suicide are promising

The number of suicides across the military fell by more than 15 percent in 2013, though more Army National Guard and Reserve soldiers reportedly took their own lives in 2013 than the year before. That’s according to data provided by the major military branches to the Associated Press.

151 active duty soldiers took their own lives in 2013, compared to 185 in 2012, a slight drop. However, another 152 members of the Army National Guard and Reserve took their own lives last year, compared to 140 the previous year. There were 289 active duty suicides across all major military branches in 2013, down from 343 in 2012.

The drop in overall suicides may be a promising sign for the Pentagon, which has been ramping up prevention efforts to help those at risk of taking their own lives. However, military leaders are not being quick to call the slight decreases a victory.

“I think we’ve changed the cultural mindset — that it’s O.K. for a sailor or a soldier or an airman or Marine to come forward and ask for help,” said Navy Rear Adm. Sean Buck, who’s in charge of suicide prevention for his branch of the armed services, the AP reports. “We’re trying to reduce the stigma that used to exist.”

The Pentagon is expected to release its own suicide data Friday. While the numbers are expected to differ slightly, one issue will remain unchanged: the slight increase in Army National Guard and Reserves soldiers who committed suicide in 2013 compared to 2012. The AP reports many reservists that committed suicide served in Iraq and Afghanistan, though there is no evident link between service and suicide.

[AP]

TIME

Dutch Man Charged With Deep Web Drug Trafficking in U.S. Court

The 22-year-old could face up to 40 years in federal prison

A Dutch man was charged in U.S. court Thursday with selling massive amounts of ecstasy, cocaine and other illegal drugs on the deep web market known as Silk Road, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Cornelis Jan Slomp, a 22-year-old Dutch national, has reportedly agreed to plead guilty to drug charges that could carry a total sentence of up to 40 years.

Slomp been in federal custody since August, when he was arrested at Miami International Airport with $20,000 in cash and a rented Lamborghini. Agents also reportedly seized about $3 million in bitcoin, a digital currency common preferred by Silk Road users because it’s generally regarded as difficult to track, from Slomp.

A federal investigation into Slomp’s activities began in April of 2012, when an envelope from the Netherlands containing ecstasy in an empty DVD case was seized at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Agents traced that envelope, and about 100 others, to Slomp’s Silk Road account.

[Chicago Tribune]

TIME Companies

Ford Profits Fall But Revenue Beats Expectations

Revenue was slightly higher than analysts expected

Ford Motor Company reported $989 million in profit during the first quarter of 2014, a significant drop from the $1.61 billion the Detroit-based automaker saw during the same period last year. Revenue, however, was up in Q1.

MarketWatch reports the company raked in about $35.9 billion overall in the first quarter, slightly surpassing the $34.54 billion in revenue analysts expected.

The Detroit Free Press reports Ford has 23 global launches planned in 2014, one of the company’s most aggressive years in the past half-decade. The costs associated with those launches, as well as service costs related to older models, are likely related to Ford’s profit drop.

[MarketWatch]

TIME justice

A Misdemeanor Conviction Is Not a Big Deal, Right? Think Again

Convictions for misdemeanors like drug possession often trigger the same longterm consequences in the form of legal hindrances that felonies do. And there are fewer ways to remove them from criminal records

Christian Watts made a bad decision in 2002, and he has been paying for it ever since. As a 31-year-old, Watts was working for a Las Vegas limousine service when he connected a friend with someone who had a supply of the illegal party drug MDMA, or ecstasy. Federal investigators who were tracking another drug dealer got wind of the deal, and charged him with felony possession. At the advice of his lawyers, he pleaded the conviction down to a misdemeanor, and served no jail time.

But he says he still feels imprisoned by his conviction. “It’s like a have a black mark on me that disqualifies me in the forum of public opinion,” says Watts, now 40, working as a dog walker and Crossfit trainer in Las Vegas, after spending the past decade earning an associates, bachelors and working toward his Master’s degree. “My life is stuck in a standstill.”

Watts is only one of the many Americans whose misdemeanor convictions have followed them along their road to redemption. And as President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder ramp up their efforts to restore the rights and opportunities of convicted felons as part of criminal justice reform efforts, little attention has been paid to the plight of those convicted of misdemeanors struggling to turn their lives around. “The single most dangerous thing people think is that if they get a conviction and don’t go to jail they won’t face issues,” says Norman Reimer, the executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “Misdemeanor convictions can have serious impacts.”

Only about 10% of all federal convictions in 2010 were misdemeanors, but research shows the majority of people who find themselves in state criminal courts are facing charges for minor crimes like possession of marijuana or driving with a suspended license. Misdemeanor convictions, in fact, don’t always result in jail time. And yet, misdemeanor convictions can trigger the same legal hindrances, known as collateral consequences, as felonies. And there are fewer routes to expunging them from criminal records.

In Nevada alone, where Watts lives, a person convicted of a misdemeanor could potentially face over 200 federal and state consequences as a result of their conviction many of which bar employment and licenser for certain fields, according to an American Bar Association database. In all, there are over 45,000 state and federal consequences for convictions. “It affects housing rights, access to loans, family rights and a whole realm of things. It’s often called the secret sentence or the silent punishment,” says Reimer, whose organization will soon release a report on the impact of collateral consequences.

Although the government is taking aim at reducing both the prison population and the consequences facing those who commit felonies despite their release, the impact on those with misdemeanors flies under the radar. In fact, in the eyes of the federal government, “most civil disabilities imposed as the result of a federal conviction are triggered by conviction for a felony offense rather than a misdemeanor crime,” according to the Office of the Pardon attorney. And the office’s “limited resources,” the Department of Justice website reads, “are best utilized to review and process applications for pardon of federal convictions.” Despite the fact that criminals may find that the only remedy for their federal misdemeanor conviction is a Presidential pardon, petty criminals just aren’t bad enough to need to be completely forgiven. On the state level, things vary, but Reimer says for many crimes the options for purging things from criminal records are limited. Even when there is no connection between the crime and longterm consequence.

“It sends people down a route that limits their life chances and sets up conditions that can lead them to commit additional crime,” says Nazgol Ghandnoosh, a research analyst at the Sentencing Project. “It makes it hard for people to have stability in their life. It’s not good crime policy and it doesn’t help to promote public safety.”

There are many organizations working to curb the impact of criminal convictions, but few have turned their attention to the impact of misdemeanors. In fact, there is little research that dives deep into the impact collateral consequences have on non-felony convictions. Despite the fact that a minor conviction can get a permanent, legal resident deported. And for people like Watts, that disregard is unacceptable.

After a handful of months on house arrest and probation, Watts went back to school to try to get his life on track, first at a Nevada community college, then at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, using money he inherited from his late grandfather to afford tuition.

But employment did not follow. Because of the misdemeanor on his record, he says has been denied jobs, and was turned away by the National Guard.

“I constantly have to prove I’m not the bad guy this piece of paper says,” he says. “Felony and misdemeanors have little distinction in the effects on your life. The only real difference is the name.”

The district judge that sentenced Watts told him in 2011 the only way to clear it would be to be granted a presidential pardon, even as he praised Watts for working hard to bounce back. “I wish I had far more people before me who show the kind of self rehabilitation and effort that you’ve demonstrated,” said Judge Philip M. Pro. And not soon after, the judge stepped down from the bench to shake Watts’ hand. The judge told him, “There’s not many people that I’ve sentenced that I feel I can do that.”

TIME beauty

Beyoncé and Lupita Nyong’o are on the Covers of TIME and People and It Is a Big Deal

Having two black women— representing different types of black beauty— on two storied covers is something to celebrate

On Thursday, the hashtag #WhatIsPretty trended on Twitter, inspiring men and women across the globe to share photos of what they consider beautiful. And on Thursday, the covers of two of the world’s largest magazines, TIME and People had a resounding answer: black women.

People named the Academy Award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o “The World’s Most Beautiful Person of 2014.” And the ever-flawless Beyoncé graces the cover of TIME magazine’s issue about the world’s most influential people. (Both magazines are published by Time Inc.)

Two black women from different ends of the spectrum of beauty—one with deep brown skin a short natural ‘do, the other with flowing blonde tresses and skin like creamy caramel—were chosen to represent the most beautiful and most influential women in the world. That’s something to celebrate.

Photograph by Paola Kudacki for TIME

It would be easy to dismiss the covers as revering of the fickle world of celebrity or to brush the two off as “it girls” who will dominate headlines for a year or so and fade to the background when another, more hot woman catches the interest of Hollywood.

It’s much harder to ignore the importance of this moment for little brown and black girls who will see these covers on supermarket shelves and think for a second, “hey, she looks just like me.”

There are countless documentaries, news stories, think pieces, tweets, and soapbox moments that show black women still have a ways to go until their “black” is seen as beautiful by all. The recent documentary film “Dark Girls” dug deeply into the everyday struggles with acceptance and beauty facing brown skin women in America. African American girls have with their personal and society’s perceptions of their beauty. Lupita has described herself as “night shade” and was even quoted in People saying she considered “light skin and long, flowing, straight hair” beautiful as a young girl. “Subconsciously you start to appreciate those things more than what you possess.”

People

And earlier in April, the U.S. Army issued new grooming rules that reminded African American women that the hairstyles we choose are still described using words like “unkempt” and “unruly.”(And when those words don’t’ fit, we’re often questioned about whether or not the hair on our heads grows from our scalps or was bought in a store.)

Unfortunately, these moments are still too common and are representative of the deep-rooted racism our society is still struggling to overcome. In no way are two magazine covers going to change that, but you know what? Beyoncé championed her self-titled album as a message on finding the beauty in imperfection and that’s what we should do here. Recognize the beauty of all women despite the imperfect standards placed upon them.

For this not-so-little brown girl, who once questioned why her naturally curly coils didn’t fall straight; who once asked her mom why there weren’t a lot of little brown girls in TV commercials, knowing a generation of girls will grow up seeing women breaking the mold of what is traditionally seen as beautiful thrust in the face of society makes me feel good. And it should make you feel good, too.

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