TIME faith

Pope Francis Confirms U.S. Visit in 2015

The pope will attend the triennial World Meeting of Families

Pope Francis has confirmed he will travel to the U.S. next year to attend a gathering in the city of Brotherly Love, marking his first visit to the U.S. as pontiff.

“I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families,” Pope Francis said Monday, according to Vatican Radio. “Thank you for your prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. Bless you from my heart.”

The World Meeting of Families is a triennial gathering and claims to be the world’s largest meeting of Catholic families. It will be held Sept. 22-27, with the Pope set to attend the final weekend events. During his visit, the pope will host a mass at the close of the event in Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Details of his visit, however, have not been finalized.

“A hallmark of his papacy has been a keen focus on the many challenges that families face today globally,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. “I believe that the presence of the Holy Father will bring all of us –Catholic and non-Catholic alike – together in tremendously powerful, unifying and healing ways.”

Pope Francis hinted he’d be traveling to the U.S. in 2015 in August, but it had yet to be confirmed.

TIME Immigration

What Republicans Could Do if the President Acts on Immigration

John Boehner Obama Immigration
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) holds a news conference with the newly-elected members of the House GOP leadership at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Nov. 13, 2014. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

Will Republicans opt to shut down the government if the President asserts his executive authority on immigration? They could, but no plans have been set yet

President Obama is poised to take unilateral executive action on immigration despite warnings from Republican leaders in Congress. The President’s plan, which would block deportation for as many as 5 million illegal immigrants, could come as soon as next week, the New York Times reports, and Washington and much of the country are bracing for the fallout.

But what exactly can the GOP do if the President acts?

Congressional leaders have said any action the president takes on his own will prompt a swift reaction. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who will serve as the Majority Leader in upcoming session, has likened it to “waving a red flag in front of a bull.” On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Republicans will “fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down that path.”

Practically, the GOP’s options are limited. As TIME’s Alex Rogers reported in October, a lawsuit is a costly route with a low-likelihood of success. Many Republicans nonetheless have come out in support of pursuing a legal battle. A suit authorized by House Republicans over the summer claims the President has overstepped the bounds of executive authority, and could be expanded to include his immigration moves if the president acts unilaterally. A decision on whether to include immigration in the suit will only be made “if and when” the President acts, according to a Congressional aide.

Another possibility: the GOP could force another government shutdown if Obama acts before Congress passes a federal spending bill. The deadline for Congress to fund government programs is Dec. 11, and while Sen. Mitch McConnell has flat out said there will be “no government shutdown,” he’s not the only one with a say in the matter. Conservative Republicans are increasingly calling for leveraging a spending bill as a threat against Obama’s immigration plans. Boehner on Thursday indicated though the goal isn’t to shut down the government, Congress intends to “stop the president from violating his oath of office and violating the Constitution.”

Even some Democrats have signaled they’d rather the President wait until the government is funded before acting on immigration. “I’d like to get the finances of this country out of the way before he does it. But it’s up to him,” current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told CNN.

The president appears increasingly inclined to act, perhaps in part because the GOP’s options for blocking him are costly an unappealing. At a press conference in Myanmar early Friday he said an executive order on immigration is “going to happen. And that’s going to happen before the end of the year.”

But Obama is not in a particularly strong political position either. Cornell Law Professor Stephen W. Yale-Loehr has said, “the president has boxed himself into a corner.” Says Yale-Loehr: “Republicans will argue that even the smallest executive immigration actions subvert Congress’ power.”

The real casualty in the maneuvering, says Noah Pickus, an immigration expert and associate research professor at Duke University, will be any chance for long-term immigration reform, which both parties say is necessary.

“The tough nut is to actually create a package in which both sides feel some real pain — and neither the President nor the Republicans have been willing to do that,” Pickus says. “The Republicans’ response to the President’s acting on his own will take us back through another endless Kabuki theater of policy-making rather than moving us into a new venue to see a new kind of play.”

-With reporting by Alex Rogers

TIME Senate

Elizabeth Warren Joins Senate Democratic Leadership

Harry Reid, Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. listens as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, after Senate Democrats voted on leadership positions for the 114th Congress. Susan Walsh—AP

The progressive leader joins the Democratic leadership in a newly created role

The Senate Democrats voted in new leadership on Thursday, including progressive standard-bearer Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) who will take on a newly created role.

Following an hours-long leadership vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters he expects “Elizabeth Warren to be Elizabeth Warren” in her new role as the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee’s strategic policy adviser. The role, several outlets are reporting, was created specifically for Warren.

The addition of Warren brings some star power to the Democrat’s senior ranks, though it’s not clear how much clout will come with the new position.

Reid was chosen to continue leading Democrats in the Senate, though at least two of his peers, Sens. Claire McCaskill and Joe Manchin, told reporters they did not cast votes for anyone, according to the Washington Post.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Jon Tester of Montana will also take on leadership roles for the Democrats. Klobuchar will chair the Senate Democratic Steering Committee, and Tester will now chair the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Reid praised Tester’s victories in two tough elections in announcing the Montanan’s selection to lead the DSCC ahead of the 2016 election. In a statement released by the DSCC Thursday, Tester said he’s accepting the position to “recruit and support candidates who understand the issues facing regular, working Americans.”

The new Democratic leadership team includes four women and three men. When asked about the number of women who now serve beside him in the leadership, Reid said Thursday, “I have seen this institution change for a lot of reasons, but one reason it has changed for the good is because of women.”

TIME Military

Military Recruitment Rules Conflict With Sikh American’s Faith

The ACLU and United Sikhs are suing the U.S. Army for not allowing a 19-year-old college student to join because his devout faith requires that he wear a turban and grow a beard

Ninteen-year-old Hofstra sophomore Iknoor Singh has always wanted to join the military. “During my senior year in high school, when I was looking at colleges, Hofstra appealed to me the most because it had an ROTC program on campus,” he told TIME.

So far, the Queens, New York native has been unable to realize his career dreams, thanks to strict military grooming and dress codes that conflict with his devout Sikh faith, which requires that he continue to grow his beard and wear a turban. But he’s not going to go down without a fight. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and United Sikhs sued the U.S. Army for not allowing Singh to join.

Singh actively sought out the on-campus recruiter to let him know that he wanted to serve his nation as a member of the armed services, but recruiters told him he likely wouldn’t be able to enlist because of his appearance. Though the Department of Defense grants religious exemptions on an individual basis, under military rules recruits are required to wear conservative hairstyles and keep facial hair groomed in an effort to promote cohesion within the ranks–a direct contradiction to the Sikh faith.

Many Sikh Americans have protested the military’s guidelines on grooming. In March, 105 members of Congress sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urging an expansion of opportunities for Sikhs to enlist. Only three Sikhs since 1981 have been permitted to enlist and keep their articles of faith, including Maj. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi who told the Los Angeles Times in April, “I would gladly sacrifice my life for the mission. But I could not cut my hair and remove my turban. They’re not mine to give. They belong to my God.”

Singh applied for a religious exemption as well, but his request was denied because he wasn’t yet enlisted. But of course, in a Catch-22, if he were to enlist, Singh would still have been required to adhere to grooming standards until his exemption was either accepted or denied. In either scenario, he would have to make the choice of his religion over his job or job over his religion.

The ACLU lawsuit alleges that the failure to make an exception in Singh’s case is a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. “Our military should strive to welcome and accommodate recruits of all faiths,” said Heather L. Weaver, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Program on the Freedom of Religion and Belief in a statement. “Religious diversity is a strength, not a weakness.”

A change in DOD guidelines allows for religious accommodations, “unless a request would have an adverse effect on military readiness, mission accomplishment, unit cohesion and good order and discipline.” If a religious item, for example, interferes with a mask or poses a safety or health hazard, the request can be denied.

Singh hopes to become a military intelligence officer, and hopes that the lawsuit—aside from resulting in him getting to do what he wants to do—helps open doors for more Sikh Americans.

“This country was founded was founded on religious freedom,” Singh says. “I don’t think that’s being portrayed properly over here.”

TIME

There’s Going to Be a Duck Dynasty Musical

Duck Commander 500
Willie, Phil and Si Robertson of Duck Dynasty take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 6, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. Jonathan Ferrey—Getty Images

Break a beard, everyone

The Robertson family of Duck Dynasty fame will soon add a new accolade to their litany of show business accomplishments: stars of a Broadway-style musical.

The reality stars have commissioned a team of Broadway producers to adapt their tale for the stage, although the theatrical rendition of the Robertsons’ life will not actually appear on the Great White Way. Instead, the production of Duck Commander will debut in Sin City, at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas this February, the New York Times reports.

Actors will be cast to play the Robertson family, which skyrocketed to fame thanks to some quirky personalities and inflammatory comments. Last year, family patriarch Phil Robertson was suspended by the Duck Dynasty network A&E after comparing gay relationships to bestiality.

The family reportedly has final say over the script and production, which will be based off the 2012 book The Duck Commander Family by Willie and Korie Robertson. So far they’ve “enjoyed the process.”

[NYT]

TIME ebola

Veterinarians Group Issues New Guidelines for Pets and Ebola

Beagle on Hind Legs with Paws on Kennel Bars
Cavan Images/Getty Images

Though the spread of the deadly virus hasn't been linked to animals

The American Veterinary Medical Association is urging pet owners to take an abundance of caution when dealing with Ebola, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is saying that animals have not contributed to the outbreak of the virus in West Africa.

Pets should be quarantined, according to vet group’s new guidelines issued this week, if they have been in close contact with someone infected with Ebola. If the pets test positive for the lethal virus, they should be put down.

While quarantined, the pets should be confined to a crate or kennel inside a secure facility and stripped of all clothing and collars that could have possibly been contaminated.

The recommendations reiterate that there have been no reports of dogs or cats stricken with the virus, not even in parts of Africa where the disease is rampant. In the U.S., the likelihood of pets getting the disease is very low, and the last known person in the U.S. to have been diagnosed with the virus was released from the hospital with an all clear on Tuesday.

The CDC and leading veterinarians began researching how to approach pets of people infected with Ebola after the dog of a nurse in Spain was put down when its owner contracted the virus.

TIME movies

Disney’s Making a White Fang Movie… Again

Ethan Hawke in White Fang in 1991.
Ethan Hawke in White Fang in 1991. Disney

Spike Jonze pal Lance Acord will make his directorial debut on the new film

Correction appended, Nov. 12

Disney is revisiting its 1991 film White Fang, which was based on the classic Jack London novel.

An updated version of the adventure film will get a screenplay by Academy Award-nominated writer Jose Rivera (for The Motorcycle Diaries), the Hollywood Reporter said. And long-time Spike Jonze pal Lance Acord, who did the cinematography on Jonze’s ex-wife Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, will make his directorial debut at the movie’s helm.

The ’90s adaptation of the story by Jack London followed a young man, played by a fresh newcomer named Ethan Hawke, who befriended a wolf-dog and set off on a number of adventures through Alaska during the Gold Rush. The Hollywood Reporter said there’s no word on whether the new film version will adhere more to the book, which told the story from the wolf-dog’s point of view.

[THR]

Correction: Due to an editorial error, the original version of this story misstated the director for Lost in Translation. It was Sofia Coppola.

TIME Civil Rights

FBI Letter to Martin Luther King Jr Reveals Ugly Truths From Hoover’s Era

MARTIN LUTHER KING A PARIS 1965
Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964
"First person in the Western world to have shown us that a struggle can be waged without violence"
Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

MLK is depicted as evil and a fraud in the letter that urges the civil rights icon to commit suicide

A scathing letter sent by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Civil Rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has been uncovered, pulling back the curtain on J. Edgar Hoover’s efforts to discredit the leader as his popularity grew.

In the anonymous letter, published for the first time in the New York Times Wednesday, the author refers to the Nobel Peace Prize recipient as “evil,” a “fraud,” and a “dissolute, abnormal moral imbecile.” The author threatens to expose King as an adulterer and in the end flat-out suggests that the leader commit suicide.

One passage reads: “No person can overcome facts, not even a fraud like yourself. Lend your sexually psychotic ear to the enclosure. You will find yourself in all your dirt, filth, evil, and moronic talk exposed on the record for all time. I repeat—no person can argue successfully against facts. You are finished.”

The FBI under Hoover devoted a great deal of attention to Dr. King, whom Hoover considered a threat to national security, Vox reports. The letter reportedly came to be after Hoover failed to prove King was a Communist, which he could have used to disgrace him. Yale professor of American History Beverly Gage wrote in the New York Times, the letter is “the most notorious and embarrassing example of Hoover’s F.B.I. run amok.”

Read the full letter at the New York Times.

TIME Security

Chinese Hackers Breached National Weather Websites

The breach wasn't acknowledged until after several probes

Officials announced Wednesday that Chinese hackers had gained access to Federal weather data as early as September.

The hack occurred in late September, but was not acknowledged by the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration until Oct. 20, the Washington Post reports. As a result of the hack, some national weather websites were unavailable for as many as two days, including the National Ice Center website. And those sites being offline impacted some long-term forecasts.

NOAA also lagged in its response to the breach. The Post reports the the administration “did not say its systems were compromised” when the problem was first acknowledged on Oct. 20. When NOAA admitted Wednesday that there had been a cyber security breach, they did not say who was responsible either. That information came from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who disclosed that the attack had come from China. Wolf blasted the agency saying, “They had an obligation to tell the truth. They covered it up.”

Read more at the Washington Post.

TIME White House

White House to Women and Girls of Color: We Care

Valerie Jarrett White House
Senior advisor to the president Valerie Jarrett walks through the Colonnade of the White House on Jan. 28, 2014 in Washington. Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images

Nearly a year after launching the My Brother's Keeper Initiative that focuses on expanding opportunities for black and brown boys

Responding to criticism it has overlooked the problems of young women of color, the White House sought Wednesday to promote its work on behalf of young black and brown women and girls, releasing a formal report and announcing the creation of a working group that will address “challenges and opportunities for women and girls of color.

Advocates for women and girls say the administration has left girls behind, focusing instead on issues facing young black and brown men and boys in the last year since the White House launched the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, a widely-praised mentorship program. The Obama Administration argues it has been focused on women from the start.

“Since day one of his Administration, President Obama has focused on increasing opportunity for women and girls, as part of his larger focus on expanding opportunity for each and every American,” Senior Adviser to the President Valerie Jarrett said in response to critics over the summer, boasting the Lilly Ledbetter Act and the creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls as major accomplishments on behalf of women that should have had a trickle down effect on the lives of black and brown women.

But for many young girls within black and brown communities, that aid hasn’t materialized. According to the White House report, black and Hispanic girls graduate at higher rates than their male counterparts, but they are still 14.6 and 12.8 percentage points, respectively, less likely to graduate from high school than their white peers. They face similar problems with school discipline and violence as young black and brown boys. They’re also more likely than white girls to get pregnant at a young age, jeopardizing their educational and financial futures. Black and Hispanic women are overrepresented in low-paying jobs and less than half have access to paid leave at work.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been progress, as the Obama administration is quick to point out. An estimated 12.5 million women of color have benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of access to women’s preventative services. The administration is working directly with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to develop culturally relevant conversations on campus sexual assault. And they’re also working within tribal communities to address health issues specific to Native women, among other policies that cater to women. In January, the Department of Education will also partner with the White House and convene on increasing minority girls’ opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The impact of the report and the event at the White House on Wednesday is unclear. The roll out isn’t being met with as much fanfare as the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, which garnered support from hundreds of communities and organizations. Much of the report is dedicated to highlighting existing administration efforts that address problems facing all women and girls, including some that have had a particular impact on minority communities, rather than presenting a call for solutions.

Melanie Campbell, a civil and women’s rights activist who attended the White House event Wednesday, says its a start. “It’s a positive move to expand the conversation and start to hone in on where we see disparities,” Campbell says.

In a June letter, over 1,000 activists, celebrities, educators and community members led by the African American Policy Forum signed an open letter to the White House, urging the program to be more inclusive. “It makes no sense to equip the canary with a mentor, a gas mask and or some other individual-level support while leaving the mine as it is and expecting the females to fend for themselves,” the letter reads. “If the air is toxic, it is toxic for everyone forced to breathe it.”

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a professor Columbia Law School and a co-founder of the African American Policy Forum, says it’s a reminder that the issues facing women and girls are considered “separate and unequal.”

“Separate and unequal is just not sufficient given the level of crises facing women and girls of color,” says Crenshaw. “I guess giving something is better than nothing, but this is a far cry from a solution that promotes equity.”

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