TIME Foreign Policy

U.S. Diplomats Banned From Ice Bucket Challenge

US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks while releasing the 2013 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom July 28, 2014, at the US State Department in Washington.
US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks while releasing the 2013 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom July 28, 2014, at the US State Department in Washington. Paul J. Richards—AFP/Getty Images

Lawyers say it's an ethical issue

John Kerry will not be dumping ice water over his head and filming it. Lawyers at the State Department have forbidden U.S. diplomats from participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge, a social media phenomenon raising money and awareness for ALS.

In a cable sent this week to U.S. ambassadors and foreign service officers, and obtained Thursday by the Associated Press, the lawyers said the it’s an ethical issue.

“There are firmly established rules preventing the use of public office, such as our ambassadors, for private gain, no matter how worthy a cause,” the cable said. “Thus, high-ranking State Department officials are unfortunately unable to participate in the ice bucket challenge. We since wish the ALS Association continued success in its ice bucket campaign, and in its fight against Lou Gehrig’s disease.”

 

Celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Oprah Winfrey and George W. Bush are among those who have posted videos of themselves dumping freezing cold water on their heads. The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised over $40 million so far.

[AP]

TIME 2016 Election

Perry Stops in Washington in Wake of Indictment

Rick Perry
Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP

Texas Gov. Rick Perry called his Aug. 15 indictment on charges that he abused power an “attack on our system of government” during a speech on immigration at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on Thursday.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry called his Aug. 15 indictment on charges that he abused power an “attack on our system of government” during a speech on immigration at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on Thursday.

Gov.Perry stopped in Washington on his way to New Hampshire less than a week after being indicted by a grand jury in Texas on charges of abuse of power. He said Thursday he was confident in his case and that he aims to “defend our constitution and defend our rule of law in the state of Texas.”

The charges against Perry stem from his veto of $7.5 million worth of funding to the state entity that investigates political corruption, the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, after Travis County’s embattled District Attorney refused to resign in the wake of a drunk driving arrest.

Democrats in Texas have alleged Perry wanted funding cut to the public integrity unit to delay an investigation into mismanagement at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, one of Perry’s signature programs. In an affidavit released by Perry’s lawyers on Thursday, a former criminal investigator at the Travis County Public Integrity Unit said neither Governor Perry nor anyone from his officer were ever a target in the investigation into the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

“Any suggestion that Governor Rick Perry or anyone associated with him was being investigated is untrue; and, based on my investigation, there was absolutely no evidence whatsoever that suggests wrongdoing on the part of any individual other than the individual ultimately indicted by a grand jury,” the affidavit reads.

Perry has come across as calm, and at times cheeky, in the face of the charges. The governor presented a slight smile in his mugshot, released Tuesday. After being booked, Perry went out for ice cream. And now, Perry is hitting the road, with scheduled appearances in states that would be crucial if the governor were to run for President in 2016 as expected, including New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina.

Even during his brief remarks in Washington, Perry seemed to be focused mainly on the idea of one day serving as commander-in-chief: following a brief mention of the case against him in his home state, the Governor focused his attention on the crisis at the border, calling it a threat to national security. Perry said there should be no conversation about immigration reform, “until the border is secure.”

TIME

Ex-Virginia Governor Talks About Marriage at Trial

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says tension in his marriage was fueled in part by his wife's difficulty dealing with her staff

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says tension in his marriage was fueled in part by his wife’s difficulty dealing with her staff.

McDonnell testified Thursday that it got so bad that he eventually stayed in his office longer than necessary rather than go home and listen to his wife’s complaints.

He also said he often heard his wife, Maureen, yelling at assistants. He said she didn’t appreciate it when he tried to rein her in.

The marriage is a key issue in the McDonnells’ public corruption trial. Defense attorneys suggest they couldn’t have conspired in a gifts-for-favors scheme with a wealthy businessman because their communications had broken down.

TIME 2014 Election

This Democratic Senator Is Running on Obamacare in a Surprising New Ad

Hell freezes over

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Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is running in one of the tightest reelection races in the country, facing freshman Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a U.S. Army veteran. So it may come as some surprise that in Pryor’s new ad released Wednesday, he chose to hone in on his support of President Barack Obama’s unpopular healthcare law.

In the personal new ad, Pryor’s father, David, a former senator himself, talks about his son’s battle with sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in 1996. “When Mark was diagnosed with cancer, we thought we might lose him,” David Pryor says in a voiceover. “But you know what? Mark’s insurance company didn’t want to pay for the treatment that ultimately saved his life.”

By opening up about the struggle for his own life, Pryor aims to connect with his constituents. “No one should be fighting an insurance company when you’re fighting for your life,” he says in the ad. “That’s why I helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you’re sick or deny coverage from preexisting conditions.”

Pryor’s ad does at least three things right. First, he hones in on the most popular aspect of the Affordable Care Act: coverage for those with preexisting conditions, which has support across the aisle. “We all agree that nobody should be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition,” David Ray, a Cotton campaign spokesman, told TIME in an emailed statement.

Second, Pryor’s ad doesn’t use the term “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act’s nickname first coined by its critics. A Kaiser Health Tracking poll released August 1 found that a little over half of the public—53%—have an unfavorable view of Obamacare. But when referred to by a different name, the law’s negative ratings can decrease, polls show. One Kentucky poll in May found that while 57% of registered voters disliked “Obamacare,” only 22 percent had unfavorable views of Kynect, the state exchange created as a result of the Affordable Care Act’s passage in 2010.

Third, the ad includes his father, a former Congressman, Senator and Governor who is still a popular advocate despite being out of office for the better part of two decades.

And as Pryor runs on Obamacare, Senate Republican candidates and their supporters across the country have backed off on their attacks against the law. In April, anti-Obamacare advertising accounted for 54 percent of the issue ads in North Carolina, and almost all ads in Louisiana were focused on the health care law, according to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, as reported by Bloomberg. But by July, that number dropped to 27% in North Carolina and 41% in Louisiana.

This shift could be for a variety of reasons, including a renewed focus on the economy and jobs in this election cycle. But Republicans might also be reacting to a law that beat expectations, with higher enrollment figures and fewer than expected cancelled plans (1.9 million versus the purported 4.8 million, according to Health Affairs.) In Arkansas, the law reduced the percentage of uninsured from 22.5% to 12.4% over last year, according to Gallup. That 10.1% decline is the largest of any state in the nation.

Of course, Republicans stated goal on Obamacare remains “repeal and replace,” and ads could reemerge this fall even if premiums don’t increase. David Ray, a campaign spokesman for Pyror’s opponent, Cotton, told TIME in an emailed statement that the aforementioned pre-existing condition provision makes sense, but overall the law should be overturned as it raises health care costs and taxes and lowers wages.

“We thank God that Senator Pryor survived cancer, and we admire his courage in that fight,” wrote Ray. “However, we didn’t need Obamacare to change insurance regulations. We all agree that nobody should be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Obamacare raises taxes on the middle class, has caused millions of Americans to lose insurance plans they were promised they could keep, has doubled or even tripled premiums on families who can’t afford it, has caused lost wages and hours at work, and is preventing many small businesses from growing and hiring more people. Further, Senator Pryor has supported a taxpayer-funded bailout of big insurance companies that lose money as a result of Obamacare. We need to start over with reform that makes healthcare more affordable and keeps healthcare decisions between patients and doctors.”

TIME Crime

Claire McCaskill: Ferguson Will Mean More Diversity in Missouri’s Government

Senators Discuss Reforms To Combat Military Sexual Assaults
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) speaks at a news conference July 25, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Allison Shelley—Getty Images

Missouri senator also says cops and cop cars should get cameras

There have already been lessons learned from what’s happening in Ferguson, says Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat. “I think it has certainly spurred in me, and in many others, to listen harder,” she tells TIME, “especially to young people who feel hopeless and helpless about what this country is offering them.”

After nearly two weeks, the violence in Ferguson seems to be dying down, with the National Guard standing wary watch over the troubled town. Protests first erupted after a police officer shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown on August 9. Though there are conflicted reports on exactly what happened, witnesses says Brown had his hands up and was surrendering when he was shot. Brown’s death sparked outrace and protests in Ferguson, a mostly black enclave whose political and law enforcement leaders are mostly white.

McCaskill says the first order of business in Ferguson is to end the violence, which is proving difficult given the influx of troublemakers, many of whom have traveled to Missouri “for the express purpose of inciting violence, shooting police officers, throwing Molotov cocktails and looting,” McCaskill said, though Wednesday night was the calmest evening in nearly a week. “A long list of people were arrested [Tuesday night], but most of them were from other states. How do you protect the peaceful protesters from the violence among them? I’m saddened because local people want to go out and express anger, frustration, hurt and now it’s dangerous for them to do that and for no good reason.”

After that, she said, it’s a priority to get the investigation right so there can be no questions about the justice delivered. That’s why it’s important to have another autopsy and to comb over all the evidence again, so prosecutors can be sure of what happened. Often times in America’s history, she notes, when local law enforcement has failed, the federal government has stepped in. “Many civil rights came about, not when they were passed into law, but because the federal government did what it should and saw them enforced,” McCaskill said. “I think the President understands that history and our country.”

Why did Ferguson erupt in demonstrations and almost nightly violence? McCaskill says that what happened there was due to a lack of trust between law enforcement and the community. “Many countries struggle and never get to the point where people have faith that laws are executed fairly,” says the former Jackson County prosecutor. “Clearly, a large number of African-Americans don’t have faith that the laws are being executed fairly in Ferguson, and that’s a problem … We need to ensure Africans-Americans feel confident in the rule of law.

“My sense is that there’s a sensitivity in Washington that this has sparked something in this country that is much bigger than a police shooting—there’s a sensitivity from the Attorney General and the President,” McCaskill added. “I think they realized it’s a surrogate for a larger problem in the United States.”

Moving forward, McCaskill said a number of issues must be addressed so what’s happening in Ferguson doesn’t happen again. There are relatively easy solutions, like equipping cops and cop cars with cameras, she said. And then there are longer-term solutions. “The vast majority of the local government in Ferguson ran unopposed last time,” McCaskill told TIME. “We need candidate schools to recruit more young African-Americans to run for office and more diverse law enforcement communities.” Rebuilding anything, she says, whether it’s trust or a building, takes time.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: August 21

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

Ferguson Protests Stay Peaceful

Dr. Kent Brantly, one of the two Americans infected with Ebola while in Liberia and sent to an Atlanta hospital, is set to be discharged Thursday

U.S. Attempted Hostage Rescue

The U.S. launched a rescue operation this summer to free hostages held by ISIS, including slain American journalist James Foley, the Pentagon said

Israeli Air Strike Kills 3 Senior Hamas Leaders

An Israeli air strike in Gaza killed three senior leaders of the Hamas military wing on Thursday, the group said. The attack near the town of Rafah was one of 20 the Israeli military said it carried out after midnight on Wednesday

Get Ready, SoundCloud Users: Ads Are Coming

SoundCloud, the popular free music-sharing platform that’s helped artists like Lorde skyrocket to fame, is introducing advertisements. The company said Thursday that select content creators will be able to play ads beside their tracks and collect some of the revenue

Record Fine Expected From Bank of America

Authorities are reportedly about to impose a $16.65 billion fine to settle allegations that the bank knowingly sold toxic mortgages to investors, fueling the financial crisis. Since the crisis’s end, the bank has been instructed to pay more than $60 billion in fines and other claims

Blood Transfusions May Help Kids With Sickle-Cell Anemia

Regular blood transfusions could significantly reduce the risk of strokes in children who have sickle-cell anemia. A study of nearly 200 children with the condition found that monthly transfusions could reduce the chance of strokes by more than half

Instant Ramen Can Hurt Your Heart

A study showed that eating instant noodles at least twice a week was associated with 68% more cardiometabolic syndrome—a collection of risk factors for heart disease, type-2 diabetes and stroke—in women, regardless of what else they ate

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Digs in for a Fight

Perry pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in the abuse-of-power case against him, waiving a formal arraignment that had been scheduled for Friday and again signaling his readiness to fight a prosecution that he has decried as a “farce”

Study: Yoga Makes You a Quicker, Better Thinker

Practice hatha yoga consistently for eight weeks, and you’re likely to think faster and better remember things, whereas just stretching and toning yielded no improvement, according to a new study of more than 100 adults with ages ranging from 55 to 79

Winona Ryder Will Join David Simon’s Show Me a Hero

Winona Ryder will embark on her “largest TV commitment to date,” starring alongside Oscar Issac, Catherine Keener, Alfred Molina and The Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal in the new HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero, created by The Wire‘s David Simon

UPS: Customer Data May Have Been Compromised

Malware may have affected customers’ credit- and debit-card information at 51 franchises in 24 states, according to the United Parcel Service. UPS says the threat was eliminated as of Aug. 11 and that customers can shop safely at all locations

Get TIME’s The Brief e-mail every morning in your inbox

We will hold an #AskTIME subscriber Q&A this Friday, August 22, at 1 p.m., with TIME Washington correspondent Alex Altman, who has been covering events in Ferguson, Mo., this week and who co-wrote this week’s TIME cover, “The Tragedy of Ferguson.” He covers all things politics, and you can read his recent stories here.

You can submit your questions beforehand on Twitter using the #AskTIME hashtag or in the comments of this post. We depend on smart, interesting questions from readers.

You will need to be a TIME subscriber to read the Q&A. ($30 a year or 8 cents a day for the magazine and all digital content.) Once you’re signed up, you can log in to the site with a username and password.

TIME Congress

Paul Ryan Explains What Happens When He Visits Urban Black Communities

People are excited to meet their first-ever Republican, he says.

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Congressman Paul Ryan, who has been spending some time in the last 18 months visiting urban black neighborhoods, says that he’s often the first Republican the people he talks to there have ever met. Ryan, who came to TIME’s office to do an interview for the magazine’s 10 Questions page about his book The Way Forward, says that folks are excited to see him mostly because he’s listening to them.

When asked if his experiences in urban neighborhoods had given him any insight to what’s happening in Ferguson, he sounded a few words of caution about rushing to judgment. “I think it’s important to be respectful of what’s happened,” he says, “and try to get to the truth and let the investigation takes its hold.” He also believes that when people think poverty is a problem the government takes care of, they don’t get involved and it isolates poor communities. “And so the way I think we ought to approach this is, we’d better be thinking about how to fight poverty eye-to-eye, soul-to-soul, person-to-person and reintegrate our communities instead of isolating people in our communities,” says Ryan.

Shifting gears, the former vice presidential candidate said that no further investigation of the President’s attempts at health care reform is necessary. Ryan thinks the health care legislation will collapse under its own weight. “I do believe that we will ultimately repeal this law,” he says of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. “And the reason I say that is not because I’m just some optimistic person who’s naive. It’s because I think this law will implode.” Ryan takes particular issue with the IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board), the committee set up to manage Medicare costs. “I don’t think people on Medicare will sit with the idea of 15 unelected bureaucrats determining how their care is going to be allocated.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the Wisconsin congressman declared that—despite putting out a book explaining his background and his policies in quite meticulous detail—he hasn’t decided if he’s going to make a run at the presidency and won’t until 2015. In the meantime, he’s offered up his proposals for immigration reform: secure the border, offer trackable work visas and then give current illegal immigrants a probationary period to become legal, while working.

He also revealed that whenever there’s a stressful meeting that John Boehner’s leading, he tries to sit way on the other side of the room. Boehner’s a stress-smoker and says Ryan, “I just hate getting that smell in my clothes.” Good to know.

Subscribers can read the full interview here.

TIME Military

The Rescue That Wasn’t

Part of a damaged helicopter is seen lying near the compound where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad
The tail of a downed Special Ops helicopter inside bin Laden's compound in Pakistan in 2011. The pilots who led that successful mission belonged to a unit created because of a failed rescue effort in Iran 31 years earlier. REUTERS

If you're waiting for perfect intelligence to guarantee success, you'll never launch a military rescue mission

The Pentagon spoiled Americans with its near-perfect grab of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Save for a wrecked helicopter, Operation Neptune Spear went off without a hitch (assuming, as many Americans did, that taking bin Laden alive was never a top priority).

But the Navy SEALs drew to an inside straight that night in Abbottabad, Pakistan. All the practice in the world can’t trump bum intelligence. And the U.S. intelligence community’s estimates that bin Laden would be in the compound where he died ranged from 30 to 95%. If bin Laden hadn’t been there, the raid would have been deemed a failure, and would perhaps still be a secret.

The Pentagon only confirmed the failed July raid to rescue James Foley, whose murder was made public in a video released by Islamic militants on Tuesday, and several other U.S. hostages in Syria, after word began to leak out late Wednesday. “Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s top spokesman, said in a statement.

Such misses have happened before.

In 1970, 56 U.S. troops raided North Vietnam’s Son Tay prison camp to rescue the estimated 55 U.S. POWs believed to be there.

Technically, Operation Ivory Coast succeeded: the U.S., using more than 100 aircraft to support the operation, seized the camp. Unfortunately for the U.S., the North Vietnamese had moved the prisoners a day earlier due to North Vietnamese concerns that the camp was too close to a river that might flood. Two U.S. troops were injured during the mission.

Perhaps the most infamous rescue attempt since then was 1980’s Operation Eagle Claw, the aborted mission to bring home the 52 U.S. hostages held in Tehran after Iran seized the U.S. embassy there. They had been held for six months when President Carter ordered eight choppers on a risky two-night mission to rescue them. But sandstorms and mechanical woes grounded three of them on the first day, forcing the military to scrub the mission. As they withdrew, one of the helicopters hit a refueling plane at the Desert One staging site in the Iranian desert, killing eight U.S. troops.

The fiasco doomed any chance Carter had of winning a second term—Iran released the hostages shortly after Ronald Reagan took office—and led Congress to create the U.S. Special Operations Command to coordinate such efforts in the future. It also led the Army to create the Night Stalkers of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the unit whose pilots flew the Navy SEALs to bin Laden’s lair.

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