TIME Infectious Disease

California Lawmakers Pass Strict School Vaccine Bill

The bill ends vaccine exemptions for personal beliefs

The California senate has passed a bill that requires most children in public schools to get vaccinations and ends exemptions from vaccinations for personal beliefs.

The bill only allows for kids with serious health problems to not get vaccinated.

The bill is now heading to California Governor Jerry Brown, who has not said whether he will sign the bill. It would be one of the strictest vaccination laws in the country.

California recently experienced an outbreak of measles that was tied to a Disneyland amusement park. Many of the people infected were not vaccinated.

TIME technology

Federal Agency Announces Temporary Shutdown of Hacked Database

Katherine Archuleta
Susan Walsh — AP Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The federal personnel agency whose records were plundered by hackers linked to China says it has temporarily shut down a massive database used to update and store background investigation records.

Hackers linked to China are believed to have stolen records for as many as 18 million current and former employees

(WASHINGTON) — The federal personnel agency whose records were plundered by hackers linked to China announced on Monday the temporary shutdown of a massive database used to update and store background investigation records after newly discovering a flaw that left the system vulnerable to additional breaches.

There is no evidence the vulnerability has been exploited by hackers, agency spokesman Samuel Schumach said in a statement, adding that the Office of Personnel Management took the step protectively. He said the system could be shut down for four to six weeks.

Hackers suspected of working for the Chinese government are believed to have stolen records for as many as 18 million current and former federal employees and contractors last year. Detailed background investigations for security clearances of military and intelligence agency employees were among the documents taken.

The shutdown announced Monday is expected to hamper agencies’ ability to initiate investigations for new employees and contractors, as well as renewal investigations for security clearances, Schumach said.

But, he added, the federal government will still be able to hire, and in some cases grant clearances on an interim basis.

The database is known as e-QIP, short for Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing.

TIME Television

NBC Cuts Ties With Donald Trump Over Immigration Remarks

NBC will no longer be the home of the Miss Universe and Miss America pageants

NBC has cut longstanding ties with Donald Trump following the presidential hopeful’s controversial comments about immigration.

NBC will no longer be the home of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, which Trump produces, and Trump has already stepped down from running his reality show The Apprentice to run for president. “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values,” the network said in a statement. “Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”

During his presidential announcement speech earlier this month, Trump called the U.S. “a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems” while speaking about immigration. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said. “They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

In a statement provided to TIME on Monday, Trump stood by his comments and called NBC “weak” for “trying to be politically correct.”

“If NBC is so weak and so foolish to not understand the serious illegal immigration problem in the United States, coupled with the horrendous and unfair trade deals we are making with Mexico, then their contract violating closure of Miss Universe/Miss USA will be determined in court,” he said. “Furthermore, they will stand behind lying Brian Williams, but won’t stand behind people that tell it like it is, as unpleasant as that may be.”

Read next: Why Politics Trump Is Ruining Things for TV Trump


TIME Supreme Court

Supreme Court Blocks Key Obama Environmental Rule

The EPA rule regulates mercury emissions from power plants

The Supreme Court ruled Monday against a key Obama policy aimed at limiting mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants. The decision is a blow for environmentalists and a dent in President Obama’s legacy on the environment.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the rule violated a provision of the Clean Air Act that requires regulations to be “appropriate and necessary.”

Trade groups representing the energy industry argued that a cost-benefit analysis was needed to determine whether the regulation was necessary. In their estimation, Obama’s rule cost nearly $10 billion annually for a mere $6 million in benefits. The EPA contested those numbers, but also emphasized the health benefits of the regulation. The rule could have halted up to 11,000 premature deaths each year, according to the EPA.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion, joined by the Court’s four other conservative justices, and Justice Elena Kagan wrote in dissent.

“One would not say that it is even rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits,” said Scalia from the bench on Monday. “No regulation is ‘appropriate’ if it does significantly more harm than good.”

Coal power plants emit about half of all the mercury that enters the environment in the U.S. each year. The toxin can cause a variety of ailments, and even death, when it contaminates the food supply.

TIME Supreme Court

Supreme Court Upholds Arizona’s Redistricting System

The 5-4 outcome preserves efforts in 13 states to limit partisan influence in redistricting

(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court on Monday upheld Arizona congressional districts drawn by an independent commission and rejected a constitutional challenge from Republican lawmakers.

The 5-4 outcome preserves efforts in 13 states to limit partisan influence in redistricting. Most notably, California uses an independent commission to draw electoral boundaries for its largest-in-the-nation congressional delegation.

The Arizona case stemmed from voter approval of an independent commission in 2000. The legislature’s Republican leaders filed their lawsuit after the commission’s U.S. House map in 2012 produced four safe districts for Republicans, two for Democrats and made the other three seats competitive. Democrats won them all in 2012, but the Republicans recaptured one last year.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court that there is “no constitutional barrier to a state’s empowerment of its people by embracing that form of lawmaking.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy and Ginsburg’s three liberal colleagues joined her opinion.

In dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts accused the majority of approving a “deliberate constitutional evasion.”

States are required to re-draw maps for congressional and state legislative districts to account for population changes after the once-a-decade census.

The justices have been unwilling to limit excessive partisanship in redistricting, known as gerrymandering. A gerrymander is a district that is intentionally drawn, and sometimes oddly shaped, to favor one political party.

Republicans employed an enormously successful strategy to take advantage of the 2010 census, first by winning state legislatures and then using that control to draw House districts to maximize their power. One measure of their success: In 2012, Republicans achieved a 33-seat majority in the House, even though GOP candidates as a group got 1.4 million fewer votes than their Democratic opponents.

Independent commissions such as Arizona’s “may be the only meaningful check” left to states that want to foster more competitive elections, the Obama administration said.

The argument against independent commissions rests in the Constitution’s Election Clause, which gives state legislatures the power to set “the times, places and manners of holding elections for senators and representatives.”

Only Arizona and California essentially remove the legislature from the process, the National Conference of State Legislatures said, in support of the Republican lawmakers in Arizona.

Lawmakers’ only contribution in those states is picking commission members from a list devised by others. In the other states — Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Washington — lawmakers either get first crack at drawing districts, approve plans drawn by commissions or appoint commission members of their choosing, the conference said.

Supporters of the commissions point to more competitive races in both Arizona and California since the commissions were created.

The case is Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, 13-1314.

TIME Courts

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Affirmative Action in Colleges

Abigail Fisher
Charles Dharapak — AP Abigail Fisher, who sued the University of Texas when she was not offered a spot at the university's flagship Austin campus in 2008.

Abigail Fisher, who is white, was denied admission at the University of Texas

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to a second hearing of a major affirmative action case next term about a public university that uses race as a factor in its admissions process.

Brought by Texas woman Abigail Fisher, the challenge targets the admissions policies at the University of Texas at Austin. High school seniors in Texas who graduate in the top 10% of their class are automatically admitted to any Texas state university, but race is considered as one factor among applicants not in the top 10% as part of a drive to increase racial diversity on campus.

Fisher, who is white and was not in the top 10% of students, applied to the University of Texas and was denied admission. The Court should “strike down UT’s unjustified use of race,” Fisher’s lawyers said in Court briefs.

The Supreme Court heard the same case in 2012, but remanded it back to the lower court with the university’s admissions policies unchanged.

Justice Elena Kagan, who dealt with the case in her former job as Solicitor General, took no part in considering the petition. That raises the possibility of the justices splitting evenly, resulting in no precedence over whether race can be considered by colleges in admissions.


Barack Obama’s Defining Moment

President Obama Funeral Clementa Pinckney
Joe Raedle—Getty Images President Barack Obama sings "Amazing Grace" as he delivers the eulogy for South Carolina state senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney during Pinckney's funeral service June 26, 2015 in Charleston, S.C.

Amazed and grateful, the President sang

At the end of an astonishing week of political portent and national intimacy, the President of the United States–on center stage, anything but a lame duck–created a transcendent moment that will live in history. He sang. He sang an anthem, “Amazing Grace,” as deeply American as the “Star Spangled Banner.” He sang it in wonderment, at the end of a speech, a eulogy, that was a confession of faith. He sang it in gratitude, too, to a people–the descendants of black slaves–to whom he was only remotely connected but inextricably linked, because at a moment of horror, they had, once again, shown the rest of us the infinite capacity of grace. It was a moment of utter humility. Amazed by the grace of those whose families had been shattered, he could only sing.

We–all of us, but especially those of us who opine for a living–have had an awful lot to say about Barack Obama. We have been confused and disappointed by him. We have tried to psychoanalyze him: what was he really like? Was he aloof or merely dignified? Was he cold and analytical–a law professor–or an overly disciplined loner? He did not give out much beyond his inner circle, and it was a very tight circle. He was a mystery. He confounded those who sought to define him politically–in the very week that his “socialist” health care plan was upheld by a conservative Supreme Court, his quietly progressive trade policies–opposed vehemently by so-called progressives (including, sadly, Hillary Clinton)–were passed by a Republican Congress.

He was a conundrum. A black man from Hawaii with a white mother and a black father from Kenya, whom he didn’t really know. He was subjected to the most hideous calumny imaginable. He wasn’t American. He wasn’t really Christian. He didn’t go to church. He was Muslim. He was a secret terrorist intent on bringing the nation down.

But that was a profoundly Christian speech he gave in Charleston last week, and a profoundly American one. One can argue that the actions prescribed by Jesus in Matthew 25–to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the imprisoned–were not meant to be statist (as Obama argued in his speech), but personal. That was not his main point, though: In a moment that could have precipitated riot and anarchy, God had given us a vision of grace. It was the grace of the family members who forgave the alleged killer at his bail hearing. They had done unto him the exact opposite of what he had done unto them–a moment that distinguished the preachings of Jesus from those of Moses and Mohammed, both of whom sought vengeance from God. It was a moment that even we of little faith had to find gorgeous and holy. Amazing Grace.

And so the question was, Barack Obama asked, how do we respond to such a gift? “Grace involves an open mind,” he said and, “an open heart…That’s what I was thinking this week.” Grace had demanded grace: the official end of the aggrandizement of the confederate flag by public officials who had ignored the implicit racism and oppression in the banner in the past. This was good, but not sufficient, the President suggested. He did not call for a national conversation–he laughed at the futile persistence of such calls–but for a deeper recognition of “ourselves in each other.”

“Amazing grace,” he said quietly, almost to himself, at the end of the speech.

“Amazing grace,” he said again.

He had a choice here. He had given a fine speech, he could simply have repeated the words of the hymn, as they sat there, taunting him, on the page. He had always been a man of words, but words were not enough, not now, to show the pain and wonderment in his heart.

And so, he sang. And, amazed and grateful, we joined with him.

TIME States

Texas Attorney General Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Gerald Gafford Jeff Sralla
Eric Gay—AP Gerald Gafford, right, comforts his partner of 28 years, Jeff Sralla, left, as they stand before Judge Amy Clark Meachum to receive a time waiver before marrying at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas on June 26, 2015.

Gives county clerks right to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples

In defiance of the Supreme Court decision on Friday guaranteeing same-sex couples the right to wed nationwide, Texas’ attorney general said Sunday that county clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if they object on religious grounds.

“Friday, the United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist,” Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a formal opinion. “Texas must speak with one voice against this lawlessness.”

Paxton said that religious freedom clauses in state and federal constitutions and statues would protect clerks who refuse to issue marriage licenses. He pointed to the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges case decided on Friday that recognizes there may be some religious liberty protections.

Clerks who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples could be sued, Paxton said, but “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs,” often without charge.

The Austin American-Statesman first reported Paxton’s opinion.


Morning Must Reads: June 29

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

After a momentous week of American politics, Republicans are struggling to adapt to a changing America, but the Supreme Court rulings offer the party an opportunity to leave some baggage behind before next year’s election. Already a fault-line is emerging within the party on whether to fight for or drop a federal Constitutional amendment to roll back the high court’s decision and allow states to define marriage. Republicans like Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush bucking their base on the issue are part of an emerging trend this cycle of GOP candidates attempting to cast themselves as the inheritors of John McCain’s “Straight Talk.” Chris Christie, one of the leading practitioners of that style of politics, is set to announce he is running for president on Tuesday. He released a biographical preview video Sunday night spotlighting his mantra of “telling it like it is.”

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

The Straight Talk Express Gets a Few More Passengers
Republican candidates see an opportunity in bucking their base [TIME]

As Left Wins Culture Battles, G.O.P. Gains Opportunity to Pivot for 2016
A possible inflection point for the party [New York Times]

Why the Next Gay Rights Push Will Be Different
TIME’s Philip Elliott on what’s next for the movement after Friday’s Supreme Court ruling

Cruz Tries to Prove a Conservative Can Win
The Texan pitches himself as a true believer—with the money—TIME’s Alex Altman reports

Chris Christie’s Nothing-Left-to-Lose Campaign
The New Jersey governor is weakened, but not down for the count [Politico]

5 Days That Left a Confederate Flag Wavering, and Likely to Fall
Behind the scenes in South Carolina [New York Times]

Sound Off

“The debt is not payable…There is no other option. I would love to have an easier option. This is not politics, this is math.” — Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla to the New York Times on his commonwealth’s dire financial position

“I would probably comb my hair back. Why? Because this thing is too hard to comb … I wouldn’t have time, because if I were in the White House, I’d be working my ass off.” — Reality television star and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Iowa over the weekend

Bits and Bites

Chris Christie teases campaign launch [TIME]

Martin O’Malley taps Dave Hamrick, Obama veteran, as campaign manager [New York Times]

Jeb Bush dogged by decades of questions about business deals [Washington Post]

Education Department dials back plan to rate colleges [TIME]

Will he run? Biden speculation mounts [Wall Street Journal]

This map shows how gay marriage spread across the United States [TIME]

Supreme Court term to end with 3 rulings [Wall Street Journal]

Biden worships, speaks at S.C. church [Associated Press]

TIME ted cruz

Cruz Tries to Prove a Conservative Can Win

Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, right, greets an attendee after speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" legislative luncheon in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, June 18, 2015.
Bloomberg via Getty Images Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, right, greets an attendee after speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" legislative luncheon in Washington, D.C., on June 18, 2015

The Texan pitches himself as a true believer with the money to win

Friday night in rural northwest Iowa is as picturesque as American politics gets. Half the town of Pierson is sprawled across the outfield grass of a Little League ballpark, eating pork sandwiches and cupcakes as a country band plays atop a flatbed crowded with hay bales. As the sun begins to dip into the surrounding cornfields, Ted Cruz climbs onto the stage to make his pitch for the presidency.

The centerpiece of Cruz’s stump speech these days is a denunciation of what the Texas Republican calls the “Washington cartel.” This is the Senator’s term for the alliance of powerful interests and pliable politicians who, he says, conspire to control the country at the expense of the people. K Street lobbyists are a big part of Cruz’s cartel. So are big corporations, career politicians, the liberal media and the leaders of both parties. The newest members are the apostates on the Supreme Court, whose back-to-back rulings on Obamacare and same-sex marriage Cruz condemned at each stop on his most recent two-day swing through Iowa.

Cruz is known as a bomb thrower, and his most trip to Iowa illustrated why. He ripped rivals for the 2016 nomination for feigning outrage while privately “popping champagne” at the court’s ruling. “They stand for nothing!” he spat. He whacked party leaders for supporting illegal “amnesty.” He called for a constitutional amendment that would force Supreme Court Justices to stand in elections. He even slammed Chief Justice John Roberts, a longtime friend from conservative legal circles.

“You’re not calling balls and strikes,” Cruz tells TIME, invoking the umpire metaphor that Roberts deployed at his confirmation hearings to describe the role of a Justice. “You’ve joined a team.”

The important thing to understand about Cruz is that nothing he says is by accident. For all his florid rhetoric, he is as disciplined a speaker as any in the presidential field. His stump speech — delivered without notes or teleprompters — is carefully honed, with the same canned jokes at each stop, the same pauses for emphasis, the same cadences and delivery. The conservative crowds in this heavily evangelical swath of Iowa eagerly gobbled the red meat Cruz tossed, including jabs at “liberal intolerance” and warnings of the coming “vicious assault on religious liberty.”

But in some ways the crucial part of the routine is a more subtle argument, one aimed at voters around the country who remain skeptical that a candidate like Cruz has a real shot at winning the presidency. This, he explains, is a lie perpetrated by the cartel.

“The game of the Washington cartel,” Cruz tells crowds, “is to convince conservatives you can’t win.”

To prove otherwise, Cruz points to money. “We launched the campaign on March 23,” Cruz tells about 60 people in a drab community center in Sheldon, Iowa, on Friday. “We set a goal of raising $1 million in a week. Frankly, I thought that was a pretty audacious goal.” He paused for emphasis. “We raised $1m in one day.”

By the end of the week, Cruz adds, his campaign had raked in more than $4 million — “more money than any Republican [campaign] has raised in the opening week in modern history.” Including Establishment types like Mitt Romney and John McCain.

Candidates rarely get into granular fundraising details on the stump. But these stats are not just a point of pride (or a product of insecurity). They are central to Cruz’s case that a true conservative can harness grassroots energy to beat the cartel. The cartel is supposed to control the party’s purse strings, Cruz says — and yet here he is, a Tea Partyer despised by the GOP establishment, raking in serious dollars.

Cruz has collected more than $40 million since announcing his campaign, with most of that coming from a constellation of super PACs backing his bid. That’s far less than a “cartel” candidate like Jeb Bush, who is soon expected to report raising in the neighborhood of $100 million so far. But it’s enough to put him snugly in the next tier, along with candidates like Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, on upcoming fundraising reports.

More importantly, the tally underlines Cruz’s ability to compete financially, which most movement conservatives cannot. “We’ve not seen a grassroots conservative with serious fundraising ability since 1980,” Cruz told a small group of voters in the Dutch Bakery in Orange City, whose specialty almond patties retail for $1.50. Cruz’s stump speech builds to this argument: that he is the rare true believer with the fundraising firepower to withstand a long and grueling primary. The campaign’s actions bear out this strategy. Cruz has trekked to places like Massachusetts and staffed up in states like Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina. He is trying to build a national infrastructure that can capitalize on early momentum.

An early consequence of this long view is that Cruz has spent less time in Iowa so far than expected. He has just a skeleton staff here, led by conservative activist and former pastor Bryan English. Cruz is actually polling lower by some measures in the first-in-the-nation Hawkeye State, an evangelical stronghold well suited to his style, than he is nationwide.

Cruz promises crowds that he’ll be spending “a lot of time in the great state of Iowa.” In Orange City on Friday, he gamely submitted to the retail ritual the caucuses require. He toured a store filled with Dutch-style wooden shoes, glad-handed retirees and knelt to take photos with children. “He stands up and fights,” says retiree Patricia Boonstra, after taking a picture with Cruz on her iPad. On Saturday, the candidate delivered a sermon-style speech, titled “Believe Again,” on the campus of Drake University in Des Moines.

Steve King, the conservative congressman who represents northwest Iowa, tells TIME that Cruz has the chops to win the caucuses. “He’s a natural-born, full-spectrum conservative,” King says. “The voters are starting to follow him.”

Cruz has an uphill climb to win the nomination. He’s polling around 6% nationally over the past month, behind not only Bush, Walker and Rubio but also former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, the winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses, and fellow freshman Senator Rand Paul, who is hoping to build on his father’s robust network in Iowa and elsewhere. It’s not only the Washington cartel that dislikes Cruz. Many of the party’s moderate voters are put off by his slashing style.

But the Texan draws optimism from the success of two candidates who were also written off in the early going. One is Barack Obama, who toppled Hillary Clinton in 2008 with a guerrilla campaign Cruz speaks of with awe. (Cruz admired Obama’s battle plan so much he bought staffers a copy of the now President’s campaign manager David Plouffe’s memoir.) The other is Ronald Reagan. “I think 2016,” he says, “is going to be an election like 1980.”

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