TIME

New Orleans Mayor Asks City to Remove Confederate Statues

A monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee towers over a traffic circle in New Orleans
Jonathan Bachman—Reuters A 60 ft tall monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee towers over a traffic circle in New Orleans on June 24, 2015.

The mayor formally requested that the City Council reconsider the need for statutes honoring Confederates throughout the city

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Thursday joined Southern leaders in officially renouncing Confederate symbols that appear in public spaces around the city and state.

Landrieu formally asked the New Orleans City Council to start the process to remove four statues erected to honor Confederate leaders from their prominent positions throughout the city. The request follows Landrieu’s call for discussions and public hearings on the monuments in the wake of the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

“This is about more than the men represented in these statues. This discussion is about whether these monuments, built to reinforce the false valor of a war fought over slavery, ever really belonged in a city as great as New Orleans whose lifeblood flows from our diversity and inclusiveness,” said Landrieu said, according to the city’s website.

The mayor is calling for the removal of four structures including a statue honoring Robert E.Lee at Lee Circle, where protesters on Saturday burned a Confederate flag. Landrieu also wants the city to consider moving the Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway, the PGT Beauregard equestrian statue on Esplanade Avenue at the entrance to City Park; and, the Battle of Liberty Place Monument at Iberville Street as public nuisances, which would legally allow for their removal.

Landrieu also requested the Jefferson Davis Parkway be renamed to honor Dr. Norman C. Francis, a prominent Civil Rights leader who served as president of the historically black Xavier University.

His call to action came the same day that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill to remove the Confederate flag from outside the Palmetto state’s Capitol building. The flag is set to be removed on Friday.

TIME

Director of Hacked Federal Agency Says She Won’t Resign

The Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta arrives late for a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee about the recent OPM data breach in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 25, 2015 in Washington.
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images The Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta arrives late for a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee about the recent OPM data breach in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 25, 2015 in Washington.

"I am committed to the work that I am doing," Office of Personnel Managment director Katherine Archuleta said

The director of the Office of Personnel Management said Thursday she will not resign, despite the newly widened scope of the massive breach of federal government data.

An internal investigation released Thursday revealed that the social security numbers of 21.5 million individuals and 1.1 million fingerprints were stolen — higher than previously reported — along with the personnel data on 4.2 individuals that was previously reported stolen.

Among the 21.5 million people were employees and applicants who had submitted information to the OPM, which is essentially the human resources department of the federal government, for background checks and their friends and relatives like spouses and “co-habitants.”

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill had already been calling for director Katherine Archuleta to resign from her post in the wake of the massive breach, first reported in June about a month after officials discovered the system had been compromised. Those calls will only get louder with these new revelations.

But Archuleta said she would continue leading the agency despite the revelations. “I am committed to the work that I am doing at OPM,” she told reporters on a conference call Thursday. “We are working very hard not only at OPM but across government to ensure the cybersecurity of all of our systems and I will continue to do so. ”

She said it was under her watch that a new information technology plan was implemented at OPM, and it was that plan that led the staff to identify the recent breach.

“It is because of the efforts of OPM and its staff that we’ve been able to identify the breaches that you’ve described,” Archuleta said. “We have a very aggressive push to enhance our cybersecurity and modernize our systems and we’ll continue to do so.”

Federal officials are now conducting a comprehensive review of security systems across the federal government to identify remaining vulnerabilities.

TIME Drugs

What Are Quaaludes and Why Did Bill Cosby Use Them?

A brief history of the drug Cosby admitted to purchasing in a recently uncovered deposition

Interest in quaaludes, a powerful sedative popular among housewives in the 1960s and disco partiers in the 70s and 80s, has peaked again following revelations about disgraced comedian Bill Cosby’s use of the drug. An Associated Press report revealed that Cosby admitted to acquiring the drug with intentions of giving it to women he planned to have sex with during a deposition in 2005. Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by over two dozen women.

But, just what are quaaludes?

Methaqualone or quaaludes— also known as ‘ludes, Lemmons, and 714s—were initially synthesized in India in the 1950s. The pill is part sleeping pill, part sedative that was initially marketed as not being as addictive as barbiturates.

By the mid-1960s, the pill was being manufactured in the United States and prescribed to housewives with trouble controlling their nerves and sleeping. But soon another use of the drug was discovered: mix it with alcohol and achieve a “drunken, sleepy high,” according to PBS News. Using the drug to reach a euphoric feeling was one thing, but taking too much could lead to “respiratory arrest, delirium, kidney or liver damage, coma, and death.”

According to the Atlantic, by the 1970s abuse of the pill caused a panic and in 1973 the previously prescription-only drug had been labeled a Schedule II Controlled Substance. But by then the drug had grown in popularity among big city club goers and fraudulent doctors willing to write quick scripts to folks looking to get a fix. The Paris Review describes the appeal thusly:

To stay home feeling ecstatic was one thing, but imagine being out! Music! Lights! Sweaty, writhing bodies! Of course quaaludes were at the center of the seventies disco movement. Manhattan was littered with “juice bars,” nightclubs where no alcohol was sold but quaaludes could be had for a song.

Even as the Drug Enforcement made attempts to crack down on use and distribution of the drug, the drug was picked up by another manufacturer and was continuously marketed as a sleeping aid. And because people so enjoyed taking it, as noted in the Atlantic and Paris Review articles, people kept taking it.

Its history, however, isn’t all based in its euphoric effects. Film director Roman Polanski was accused of drugging a 13-year-old girl with quaaludes before sexually assaulting her. Playboy bunnies recall using the pill during risky sexual encounters. The 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street gruesomely depicts the destruction a ‘lude induced bender inflicted on Jordan Belfort’s car, neighborhood, and life. And continuous episodes of bad press and abuse led manufacturers to cease producing the pill in the mid-1980s. Now, as Leonardo DiCaprio’s Belfort laments in the Martin Scorsese film, it’s nearly impossible to get prescription grade versions of the pill in 2015.

And now, the drug will be further associated with risky activity. Under oath, Bill Cosby was asked, “When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?”

“Yes,” Cosby said.

TIME Crime

Parents Force Teen to Live in the Woods For Eating Pop-Tart

crystal and james driggers
Sumter County Sheriff's Office

A South Carolina couple face neglect charges

A South Carolina couple is facing neglect charges for allegedly forcing their teenaged daughter to live in the woods as a form of punishment.

James and Crystal Driggers are accused of not allowing their 14-year-old to enter their home for at least two days because she ate a Pop-Tart without permission, NBC News reports. The girl was reportedly told not to come home for a week; someone from her household was to deliver her food at specific times. According to authorities in the report, the girl was told to pitch a tent in the woods and was provided with only a roll of toilet paper, a whistle, a flashlight, and a watch.

The girl’s grandmother was able to take her in and report her situation to police, but after a short while police discovered she was sent back out. The parents were arrested and face one count of unlawful neglect of a child and could face more.

[NBC News]

 

TIME Race

Leaders Seek Solutions, Next Steps for Civil Rights Momentum

Sybrina Fulton trayvon martin
Amanda Edwards—Getty Images Activist Sybrina Fulton participates in a panel conversation at the Manifest: Justice pop-up art space on May 6, 2015 in Los Angeles.

The best way to channel "black lives matter" energy, many said, is by getting out to vote

As the 2016 election draws near, leaders of civil rights organizations are thinking about how to move the conversation generated through the black lives matter movement into more intense civic engagement.

“I say protest and push for policy change,” Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, told TIME. “In order to make change happen that we have to get out the vote.”

Campbell was one of many leaders on hand at the 2015 Essence Festival in New Orleans during the Fourth of July weekend, where many of the more than 150 speakers used the platform to issue calls to action to members of the black community.

During an address on Friday, Sybrina Fulton, mother of the late Trayvon Martin, challenged the gathered crowd to get out to vote and join nonprofit organizations that champion causes they support. All of the guests on a panel Saturday, including Nicole Paultre Bell, wife of Sean Bell, and Van Jones, called civic engagement an obvious next step for activists who’ve taken to the streets to have their voices heard. Deepak Chopra, who opened Saturday’s Empowerment Series, called on the black community to ask a series of questions—chief among them, “How can I serve?”

“People don’t think black folks are going to turn out because President Obama is no longer on the ticket, but we were voting long before that,” Campbell said. “My job is to make sure our voices are challenging anyone running for office.”

The audience at the weekend event, though—largely female, with ages ranging from old enough to have marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and young enough to have only lived at a time when there’s a black president—represents a potent voting block when its members turn out. In 2012, the increase in black voter turnout—which surpassed the white vote for the first time since 1996—was due to the swaths of black women who hit the polls. Voter turnout among young black voters, however, was down in 2012.

The black lives matter movement has made a real impact in driving the national conversation around race—as was apparent in the general theme of the weekend’s events—but the challenge going forward, said National Urban League President Marc Morial, is translating the grassroots momentum apparent on the ground into action that can impact the upcoming election.

“The advent of organic social media organizing is a new technique that’s creating an opportunity for a new generation to get its voice heard, but that doesn’t replace traditional work,” Morial said. “Movements don’t exist without changes, without an end goal of changes in public policy.”

Morial said his organization has invited 2016 presidential candidates including Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Jeb Bush and Ben Carson to an upcoming conference the organization is hosting in Tampa.

“What we’re trying to do is advance the conversation early around these issues—economic opportunity, criminal justice reform, schools and education—where do you stand? What are your points of view?” he said.

TIME celebrities

Kelly Rowland Talks Inspirational Women, Raising a Son

Kelly Rowland ESSENCE Festival
Skip Bolen—Getty Images Kelly Rowland attends the Samsung Galaxy Experience at the 2015 ESSENCE Festival on July 4, 2015 in New Orleans.

The former Destiny's Child singer dishes on strong women and race

Kelly Rowland keeps pictures of inspiring, empowering women on her vision board. The likes of Diana Ross and Sade—who she channelled recently in a fierce photo shoot for Mane Addicts—appear next to women like Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin.

“I think she’s so beautiful and inspiring,” Rowland said of Fulton on Saturday. TIME caught up with the former Destiny’s Child singer at the Samsung Galaxy Experience at the 2015 Essence Festival, where Rowland was able to tell Fulton how she felt about her in person.

In a short conversation between appearances, Rowland dished on what she’s got going on— juggling motherhood, her music, and preparing to judge aspiring singers on an upcoming BET reality show—but also got personal about raising a young black boy at a time when injustices facing men of color dominate the news. She and her husband Tim Witherspoon are already thinking about talking to their baby son, Titan, about how to interact with police.

“It’s a conversation that we have to have,” Rowland said. “We want to teach him to be responsible and to respect authority, but to always stand up for himself. He’s no punk.”

Rowland said, too, that more artists are starting to feel a sense of obligation to be outspoken about issues that impact the world around them—something she’s hoping to find in the artists she selects on her upcoming show.

“I would like to find a group that is very outspoken about issues and their opinions,” she said. Earlier Rowland noted: “It’s been awhile since we’ve had a really impactful girl group.”

TIME cities

Protestors Throw a Confederate Flag on the Grill in New Orleans

Demonstrators used the 2015 Essence Festival taking place in the city to draw attention to a movement

Just blocks from the 2015 Essence Festival, where civil rights leaders are gathering to discuss what’s next in the Black Lives Matter movement, a crowd of a nearly 100 protesters stood in the unrelenting New Orleans heat Saturday to demand action around a subject that’s been gaining steam in the wake of the Charleston church massacre.

Demonstrators burned a confederate battle flag in a charcoal grill beneath a towering statue honoring confederate general Robert E. Lee. The statue and other monuments to Confederate leaders that pepper the city, they demanded, must come down. “Down, down with the racist monuments. Up, up with the people’s empowerment,” the crowd chanted in unison.

At the base of Lee’s figure, which stands atop a 60ft column in a sprawling and immaculately kept circle also named after the general, two organizers of the protests ripped and burned a confederate battle flag that was purchased from the Confederate Memorial Museum, located just steps away.

The flag, according to an organizer who identified himself only as Quess, cost $22. As the flag crackled in the charcoal grill, local trumpeter Mario Abney performed a jazzy melody and the crowd jeered and hooted. It was a far cry from Fourth of July barbecues taking place elsewhere in the United States.

The national campaign to drive symbols of the confederacy out of the American mainstream was lent a sense of urgency by the shooting of nine black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina in June. The alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, posed with a confederate battle flag in images posted online alongside a racist screed.

In the wake of the massacre, the South Carolina legislature moved to remove the flag from outside its statehouse — a previously unthinkable act in a state where support for the flag as a symbol of Southern heritage still rides high.

It was a bitter-tasting victory for a decades-long movement that had been gaining traction even before the shootings. Activists in New Orleans have won a series of concessions over the years — the moving of a monument commemorating a bloody battle that many black residents felt glorified white supremacy; the removal of the names of confederacy figures from a handful of schools. And last week, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he wanted to rename Lee Circle and remove the statue. The change will likely coincide with the city’s tri-centennial celebration in 2018.

But the protestors at Saturday’s march and rally don’t want to wait that long. “We don’t need any more dialogue, we need demolition,” said Rev. Marie Ortiz, a veteran activist in the New Orleans area. Earlier, Ortiz told the crowd she’d been pushing for the removal of confederate symbols since her early 30s. She wants a figure of New Orleans Civil Rights leader Rev. Avery Alexander to replace Lee.

“If his words were sincere and he meant it, it doesn’t matter when he takes it down. Now is the time to do it,” the 75-year-old said.

Ortiz was among those who marched from New Orleans’ Canal Street Ferry Station to Lee Circle Saturday. The group trekked down New Orleans’ Convention Center Boulevard just past noon, occupying the same sidewalks and streets as cheerful tourists in town for the 21st annual Essence Festival. Many stopped to take pictures and chant along in solidarity.

The group later veered onto Magazine Street, which houses the National World War II Museum, weaving in and out of clusters of confused tourists. Once they reached the statue, the protestors sang, chanted, and signed a petition calling for the immediate removal of Lee’s statue and others found throughout the Big Easy, including a statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States.

“There are monuments like these all over the city and these symbols create the environment for police brutality and oppression,” said Quess, the organizer who led the flag-burning. “Black lives really don’t matter if there are all of these monuments to our former oppressors.”

TIME Television

How Melissa Benoist Felt When She Put on Her Supergirl Costume for the First Time

"It’s impossible not to feel empowered when you put it on"

Melissa Benoist, the star of the upcoming television series Supergirl, felt a range of emotions the first time she put on her signature leotard and cape to play Kara Zor-El—but most of all she felt empowered.

“It’s impossible not to feel empowered when you put it on,” the former Glee cast member told Entertainment Weekly. “I feel like a different person almost. It really is an alter ego, where I feel inspired, hopeful and empowered.”

Benoist’s new show premieres on CBS in October.

Read more at Entertainment Weekly.

 

TIME society

Utah Teen Bullied for Her Big Ears Gets Free Surgery

The teen said she was called names like "Dumbo"

A Utah surgeon gave free corrective surgery to a teen who was bullied for having big ears.

Isabelle Stark told PEOPLE kids in her high school would walk up to her and tug her protruding ears and call her “Dumbo.” But thanks to a surgeon who was no stranger to ear-related taunts while growing up, the 18-year-old was able to undergo a corrective procedure free of charge.

“I know what it’s like to be bullied about something you can’t control,” Steven Mobley, a Salt Lake City surgeon who runs a foundation that offers free ear-pinning surgery to low-income kids, told PEOPLE. “I’m really happy for Isabelle—now maybe she can move on to the next chapter of her life.”

Read more at PEOPLE.

Read Next: Nip. Tuck. Or Else

TIME Military

Women in the Navy, Marine Corps Get More Maternity Leave

Ray Mabus navy maternity leave
Molly Riley—AP Navy Secretary Ray Mabus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 10, 2015.

Women now have triple the amount of time they were provided before July 2

Women in the U.S. Marine Corps and the Navy can now take 18 weeks of maternity leave, triple the amount of time they were provided prior to July 2.

Women are not required to take all of the leave at once, but they must take it within the first year of their child’s life.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Thursday allowing women to take more time off will be beneficial to both their families and their service.

“We have incredibly talented women who want to serve, and they also want to be mothers and have the time to fulfill that important role the right way. We can do that for them,” Mabus said in a statement. “Meaningful maternity leave when it matters most is one of the best ways that we can support the women who serve our county. This flexibility is an investment in our people and our Services, and a safeguard against losing skilled service members.”

The new policy is effective immediately and applies to women who took leave after Jan. 1, 2015.

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