TIME justice

Feds Seek to Patch Up Relations Between Cops and Communities

Justice Department's $4.5 million program is a response to the crisis in Ferguson

The Justice Department is launching a program to improve relations between communities and the law enforcement officers that police them, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday.

The $4.5 million program is part of the department’s response to the crisis in Ferguson, which shed light on the deep-seated tensions between the police and urban and black communities.

“Each of us has an essential obligation – and a unique opportunity – to ensure fairness, eliminate bias, and build community engagement,” said Attorney General Holder.

Through the program, titled the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, law enforcement agencies will be provided training on “bias reduction and procedural fairness,” according to the Department of Justice.

TIME Congress

Rand Paul Calls Kerry ‘Intellectually Dishonest’ on Arming Syrian Rebels

"We will be sending arms into chaos”

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday as “intellectually dishonest” about the Obama Administration’s claim that it doesn’t need new congressional authority to arm Syrian rebels.

“You are intellectually dishonest if you argue that something passed in 2001 to [deal] with the people who attacked us in 9/11 has anything to do with sending arms into Syria,” Paul said during an afternoon speech on the Senate floor. “It’s intellectually dishonest and to say otherwise you are an intellectually dishonest person.”

Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that the Administration would act under congressional authority passed in 2001 to fight al-Qaeda and its affiliates as it arms more moderate Syrian rebels for the battle against the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

“The rebels have been all over the map,” Paul said. “There’s said to be 1500 different groups. It is chaos over there. We will be sending arms into chaos.”

Paul said the Senate should vote on a separate measure to expand military action in Syria instead of including it in the short-term government funding bill that the House passed Wednesday.

The issue of whether or not to train and equip the Syrian rebels opposed to ISIS has divided potential 2016 presidential candidates. While Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) oppose the measure, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) supports it.

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Calls for a Women’s ‘Movement’ Ahead of Elections

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Charlie Neibergall—AP Former Sec. of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin's annual fundraising Steak Fry, Sept. 14, 2014, in Indianola, Iowa.

“These issues have to be in the life blood of this election and any election”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday called for a women’s “movement” on economic issues ahead of the midterm elections.

“These issues have to be in the life blood of this election and any election,” the presumed 2016 Democratic front-runner said. “We need people to feel that they’re part of a movement, that it’s not just part of an election, it’s part of a movement to really empower themselves, their families and take the future over in a way that is going to give us back the country that we care so much about.”

Clinton was speaking on a panel at the liberal Washington think tank Center for American Progress.

Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who shared the stage with Clinton on Thursday, have pushed to make women’s economic issues the forefront of the party’s 2014 campaign. Democrats lost the female vote in 2010 for the first time since the Reagan era, and with it control of the House and six Senate seats. They are trying to avoid a similar Republican wave this year. “Why now? What is our strategy? Well, it’s because we want women to vote,” Pelosi told the crowd.

The issue is also near and dear to Clinton’s heart. Many of her advisors from her failed 2008 campaign say that, in retrospect, she should have emphasized the historic nature of her campaign more. Clinton lost women to Barack Obama in nearly half the primaries they fought.

As Secretary of State, Clinton focused on bolstering international support for women and girls. In her second political appearance after resigning from that office more than a year ago, Clinton kept her focus on those topics. “We talk about a glass ceiling, but these [minimum wage] women don’t even have a secure floor under them,” she said at the time.

The Democratic leaders lamented Thursday what they called Republican obstruction of the women’s economic agenda in Congress. The GOP has blocked Democratic efforts to raise the minimum wage—which disproportionally affects women—to $10.10 an hour, to fund universal pre-Kindergarten and other expanded child care efforts, paid maternity and paternity leaves and paid medical leave.

Clinton noted that by stymying women’s access to the workforce, the U.S. leaves 10% of increased GDP “on the table.”

“The argument is grounded in reality, but unfortunately the reality is not the context that these decisions are being made,” Clinton said. “Unfortunately, the Congress… is living in a reality-free zone. Politicians have to listen, and if they don’t it’s at their own peril.”

TIME Health Care

Obamacare Enrollment Tops 7 Million

Obamacare Expedited Bid Process Limited Who Could Build Website
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Latest data from an enrollment period that exceeded expectations despite a hobbled start

About 7.3 million Americans have completed enrollment in health insurance plans through the health care reform law’s insurance exchanges, a top Obama Administration health official said Thursday.

Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, provided the latest Obamacare enrollment figures to Congress. Tavenner said the figure includes those who had paid their premiums by Aug. 15 and that the number is subject to change slightly as consumers move in and out of coverage.

“We are encouraged by the numbers of consumers who have paid their premiums and continue to enroll in the marketplace coverage every day through special enrollment periods,” Tavenner said.

The Obama Administration said in March that the insurance exchanges had signed up a little more than eight million people, but the federal government did not release data at the time on the percentage of enrollees who completed enrollment by paying premiums. Despite the downtick in the final number, it still reflects an enrollment process that exceeded expectations following the disastrous launch of the HealthCare.gov website last year.

The latest figures also don’t include millions who have gained health insurance from the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid.

TIME Congress

Ukraine President Asks Joint Meeting of Congress for Lethal Weapons

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko acknowledges applause after addressing a joint meeting of Congress in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2014.
Kevin Lamarque—Reuters Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko acknowledges applause after addressing a joint meeting of Congress in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2014.

“One cannot win the war with blankets,” says the Ukrainian president

Correction appended, September 18

Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine, asked a joint meeting of Congress Thursday for military weapons in the fight against East Ukrainian separatists.

“One cannot win the war with blankets,” said Poroshenko to hearty applause. He added that both lethal and nonlethal aid is “urgently needed.”

The United States has provided about $60 million in nonlethal aid so far.

Poroshenko, who entered the House chamber to a three and a half minute standing ovation, astutely pulled at the heartstrings of Congress, tying Ukraine’s fate to American assistance in the fight, the “forefront of the global fight for democracy.” He also said that the country, like Israel, had the right to defend its territory and that the annexation of Crimea—”one of the most cynical acts of treachery in modern history”—wouldn’t be tolerated.

In a speech that lasted over 40 minutes, Poroshenko said the struggle “is not only Ukraine’s war.” He pushed for further sanctions against Russia to “help distinguish between good and evil,” a fund that would aid U.S.-Ukraine economic activity and a special U.S. security status for Ukraine.

“The war that these men are fighting today is not only Ukraine’s war,” Poroshenko said. “It is Europe’s, and it is America’s war too. It is the war for the free world.”

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly reported that Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko gave his remarks to a joint session of Congress. It was a joint meeting.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: September 18

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

Scotland Decides Its Fate

Scotland must decide Thursday whether to become independent from the U.K., with last-minute opinion polls putting the outcome of the referendum on a knife’s edge. Ballots will be cast at 2,608 voting stations until 10 p.m. local time

Heart Rhythm Is the New Password

A team of Toronto scientists has developed a wristband that can use your heart rhythm as an authenticator for accounts and gadgets

California’s Private Pot Police

Security contractors are flying around in helicopters and wearing body armor, clearing illegal marijuana gardens from private property

Exclusive: U2 and Apple Have Another Surprise for You

The four members of the Irish band tell TIME about another new album in the works—and its secret Apple project that might just save the music industry. The point isn’t just to help U2, but lesser-known artists and others who can’t make money from live performance

House Passes Bill to Train and Equip Syrian Rebels

The House passed legislation Wednesday to authorize the training and equipping of Syrian rebels, approving a key part of President Barack Obama’s strategy for fighting Islamist militants in the region; more than 70 members from each party voted against the bill

Arizona Cardinals Deactivate Player After Arrest on Assault Charges

Running back Jonathan Dwyer was deactivated after he was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of aggravated assault. The Cardinals’ immediate move marked a stark contrast to how other teams have operated in the wake of domestic-abuse charges

Moscow Welcomes More Autonomy for Ukraine Separatists

Russia has welcomed a new Ukrainian law granting autonomy to separatist-held eastern regions as “a step in the right direction,” but some politicians in Kiev criticized the move as unpatriotic, with former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko threatening to challenge it in court

Texas Executes Woman for Murder of 9-Year-Old

A Texas woman convicted of starving and torturing her girlfriend’s 9-year-old son to death was executed on Wednesday. Lisa Coleman, the ninth person executed in Texas this year, was put to death after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a final appeal from her legal team

Sierra Leone Begins 3-Day National Lockdown Over Ebola

Citizens in of the three West African nations hit worst by the epidemic will reportedly be banned from leaving their homes as health workers try to identify cases and the streets are kept clear; some experts fear the measures will spread mistrust, doing more harm than good

Senate Passes Bill for Better Sunscreen

The bill’s passage requires the Food and Drug Administration to respond to current pending sunscreen ingredients within a shorter period of time — an important factor in ensuring that people have the most up-to-date ways to protect their skin from cancer-causing UVA rays

‘So Help Me God’ No Longer Required During Oath

The U.S. Air Force said Wednesday that enlisted members and officers are permitted to omit the phrase “so help me God” from their oaths if they so chose, after an airman who was prohibited from re-enlisting until he uttered the phrase threatened to sue last week

Occupy Wall Street Activists Suing Over Twitter Account

A group of Occupy activists are suing a former colleague in a Manhattan court for locking them out of the @OccupyWallStNYC Twitter account, which was opened by Adbusters magazine in summer 2011 and later ceded to an activist in the group

We will hold an #AskTIME subscriber Q&A this Friday, September 19, at 1 p.m., with TIME national security correspondent Mark Thompson. He has written on The Obstacles in Obama’s New ISIS Plan, What Are Those 1,600 (So Far) U.S. Military Advisers Doing in Iraq (So Far), and Top General Tweaks Obama’s Iraq War Plan. His other stories can be found 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.

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

 

TIME Military

Airmen No Longer Required to Say ‘So Help Me God’ During Oath

Untited States Air Force Academy graduation ceremony
Craig F. Walker—The Denver Post/Getty Images United States Air Force Academy graduation ceremony at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, May 29, 2013.

“We take any instance in which Airmen report concerns regarding religious freedom seriously," the Air Force Secretary said in a statement

The U.S. Air Force said Wednesday that enlisted members and officers are permitted to omit the phrase “so help me God” from their oaths if they so chose. In a statement Wednesday, the Air Force said it arrived at the decision after consulting with the Department of Defense General Counsel; last week an airman who was prohibited from re-enlisting until he uttered the phrase threatened to sue if the Air Force did not change their policy.

“We take any instance in which Airmen report concerns regarding religious freedom seriously,” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said in a statement. “We are making the appropriate adjustments to ensure our Airmen’s rights are protected.”

The change will go into effect immediately and enlistment instructions will be adjusted within the coming weeks.

TIME Congress

House Passes Bill to Train and Equip Syrian Rebels

Mideast Syria
AP A photo provided by the antigovernment activist group Aleppo Media Center shows a Free Syrian Army fighter aiming his weapon during a battle with Islamic State militants in Aleppo, Syria, on Aug. 17, 2014

The bill passed despite wariness from lawmakers in both parties about President Barack Obama's strategy against ISIS

Correction appended, Sept. 18

The House passed legislation Wednesday to authorize the training and equipping of Syrian rebels, approving a key part of President Barack Obama’s strategy for fighting Islamist militants in the region.

The legislation, which also funds the government through mid-December, passed 319 to 108. But the amendment to arm the rebels passed 273 to 156, with more than 70 members from each party voting against it—signaling the bipartisan wariness of many in Congress to engage in another Middle East conflict.

“I don’t think it was the best choice but it was a step in the right direction,” said Representative Tony Cárdenas, Democrat of California. “It’s my understanding that we’ll get an opportunity to deliberate and then eventually vote on what we’re going to do in December … It was the first time I can remember that I was actually sitting there [on the House floor] wondering how I’m going to vote until I actually voted. And I voted yes.”

Lawmakers who opposed the amendment said the President’s strategy to arm so-called moderate Syrian rebels is misguided. The Obama Administration is hoping these fighters can help beat back the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

“I’ve never been satisfied that we’re not going to end up fighting people that we’ve armed at some point in the future,” Representative Mick Mulvaney, Republican of South Carolina, said. “No one ever defined victory to me that made any sense whatsoever.”

The amendment even lost the support of Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, a top Democratic leader.

“I support the President’s overall strategy; I support what he’s doing in providing air support for the Iraqi forces and the Kurdish rebels,” Van Hollen said. “I have misgivings about this piece because the priority of the so-called Syrian rebels is to defeat [Syrian strongman Bashar] Assad. And I understand that, but it’s hard at this point to see how defeating Assad strengthens the mission against ISIS.”

The Senate is expected to pass the legislation later this week.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly reported the vote tally for legislation to fund the government. It passed 319 to 108.

TIME Regulation

The Fed Is Staying the Course, and That’s Great

Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, listens to a question during a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington on Sept. 17, 2014.
Bloomberg/Getty Images Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, listens to a question during a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington on Sept. 17, 2014.

Why boring monetary policy is good

The Federal Reserve’s monthly statement Wednesday was typically dull. Basically, the Fed is staying the course, because the economy is continuing a path of gradual improvement.

The Fed continued its “taper,” reducing the monetary stimulus it’s pumping into the economy by $10 billion for the 10th consecutive month, while announcing that this stimulus—known as “QE3”—should end on schedule next month. The Fed also continued to signal it won’t raise interest rates above zero “for a considerable time,” despite speculation it might soften that language. Fed Chair Janet Yellen then devoted most of her news conference to a mind-numbing discussion of procedural arcana involving “policy normalization principles” and “overnight RRP facilities.”

This is not exciting stuff. But boring monetary policy is an excellent thing to have, especially just six years after a spectacular financial crisis. At the time, the Fed took all kinds of unprecedented actions to save an economy that was contracting at an 8% annual rate and shedding 800,000 jobs a month. Some critics thought those actions would fail to prevent a depression. Others thought they would lead to hyperinflation, a devastating run on the dollar, or a double-dip recession. Instead, we’ve had 54 straight months of job growth. The jobless rate is down from 10% to just over 6% percent. The stock market is booming. Last year, the U.S. had its largest one-year drop in child poverty since 1966, and this year is looking even better. Two of the Fed’s inflation hawks actually dissented from the latest statement, arguing it “does not reflect the considerable economic progress that has been made.”

In other words, things are OK.

Things are not great; as Yellen pointed out, many American families are still dealing with aftershocks of the crisis, including tight credit, lingering debt, depressed wages and a shortage of jobs. Incomes for the non-rich have grown modestly since 2010 and not at all since before the crisis, although tax cuts for the middle class and the poor, tax increases for the rich, and expanded government benefits for the vulnerable have helped offset those trends. It’s true that our recovery from the Great Recession has been slower than previous recoveries from ordinary recessions. But it has been much stronger than previous recoveries in nations that endured major financial crises—and much stronger than Europe’s current recovery. The euro zone’s output has not yet reached pre-crisis levels; it’s still struggling with 12% unemployment and a risk of deflation.

We’re doing a lot better than that. We had more effective bank bailouts, more generous fiscal stimulus—until Republicans took over the House after the 2010 midterms and began demanding austerity—and much more accommodative monetary policy. It’s all worked remarkably well. We’ve faced some headwinds—the contagion from the near-collapse of Greece in 2010, the turmoil after we nearly defaulted on our debt in 2011—but the economy has continued its path of slow but steady growth. That’s why Yellen was able to discuss those mind-numbing “policy normalization principles,” the guidelines the Fed will follow as it starts raising rates and reining in its bloated balance sheet in 2015. We’re approaching normal. And the Fed’s forecast for the next few years also looks pretty decent.

It doesn’t look fantastic. But in 2008, the U.S. suffered a horrific financial shock, with a loss of household wealth five times worse than the shock that preceded the Depression. We’re still dealing with the aftershocks. Many Americans still don’t feel like the economy is working for them, an understandable reaction to persistent long-term unemployment, stagnant wages, and continuing foreclosures.

But as dull as it sounds, it’s working better every year. The lesson of our current plight is not that the system doesn’t work. It’s that financial crises really suck.

TIME Congress

Kerry Seeks to Assure Lawmakers About ISIS Strategy

US Secretary of State John Kerry testifies about US policy towards Iraq and Syria and the threat posed by the Islamic State Group (IS) during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 17, 2014.
Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images US Secretary of State John Kerry testifies about US policy towards Iraq and Syria and the threat posed by the Islamic State Group (IS) during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 17, 2014.

The Secretary of State returns from an overseas trip to drum up support in Congress for the fight against ISIS

Secretary of State John Kerry tried to assure lawmakers Wednesday that the U.S. would not be alone in the fight against Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, as Congress looks to pass legislation this week to equip and train the “moderate” Syrian rebels.

“This cannot be simply a campaign by the West against the East,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee before which Kerry testified. Kerry responded that Menendez was “absolutely correct.”

“When we say ‘a global coalition’ we mean it,” said Kerry, who recently returned from a trip to the Middle East to rally about 40 countries for the fight against the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). While there’s currently “no discussion” about countries sending in ground troops, Kerry said some have committed to air strikes. U.S. Central Command announced Wednesday that it has conducted a total of 174 airstrikes across Iraq.

Kerry said military action would end “when we have ended the capability of [ISIS] to engage in broad-based terrorist activity.” The ultimate goals of the fight include a “political settlement” in both Syria and Iraq to end terrorist safe havens there, he added. Kerry said that the U.S. strategy will be a “multiyear effort.”

The top two leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez and ranking Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee, cautioned the Obama Administration against engaging in such a long military conflict in Syria without new, explicit congressional authority.

“As I have said many times, temporary and targeted air strikes in Iraq and Syria fall under the President’s powers as commander in chief, but if the military campaign lasts for an extended period of time, Congress will need to approve an [ISIS]-specific Authorization for the Use of Military Force,” Menendez said.

Kerry reiterated the Administration’s position that it would act under the 2001 AUMF against al-Qaeda and associated forces, enacted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He said that when ISIS separated from al-Qaeda a year ago in a “publicity stunt,” the organization did not change its targets and thus was still under the force of the previous congressional authority. Kerry added that he would welcome congressional action, but that President Barack Obama would act if the legislative branch did not.

Corker ripped Kerry’s response.

“To say that you’re going to do this, regardless of what we say—you’re not going to ask for a buy-in from the United States Senate or the House of Representatives on behalf of the American people—in a conflict that you say is going to be multiyear… taking us into another country with a different enemy, it’s exercising the worse judgment possible,” Corker said.

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