TIME Addiction

It’s Really Easy for Teens to Buy E-Cigs Online

TIME.com stock photos E-Cig Electronic Cigarette Smoke
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Most popular e-cigarette sites fail to verify the age of their clients, finds a new study

Young people under age 18 can buy e-cigarettes online, even in states where it’s illegal, a new study shows.

North Carolina researchers asked 11 teens between ages 14 to 17 who didn’t smoke to try to buy e-cigarettes online from 98 of the most popular Internet vendors. The sale of e-cigarettes to minors in North Carolina is illegal—but of the 98 orders, only five were rejected based on a failed age verification. Eighteen orders failed for problems unrelated to age, like website issues. Overall, the minors made 75 successful orders.

The teens were also asked to answer the door when deliveries were made. None of the companies attempted to confirm age at delivery, and 95% of the time, the orders were just left at the teens’ doors.

The findings are concerning for any state trying to regulate youth access, the authors say. Currently, there’s no federal law forbidding the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, despite the fact that they contain nicotine, which is addictive. In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed that e-cigarettes fall under their regular tobacco regulation jurisdiction, but the proposal is still not a codified law. “It may be several years before federal regulations are implemented,” the study authors write.

Some states have stepped in and banned the sale to minors within their borders. So far 41 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands forbid such transactions, or have pending legislation to do so.

But as the new study suggests, young people can easily get e-cigarettes online if they want them. “Without strictly enforced federal regulations, online e-cigarette vendors have little motivation to decrease profits by spending the time and money it takes to properly verify customers’ age and reject underage buyers,” says study author Rebecca S. Williams, public health researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

None of the vendors complied with North Carolina’s e-cigarette age-verification law. The majority of U.S. carriers, including USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL, ban the delivery of cigarettes, only allowing the delivery of tobacco products from a licensed dealer or distributor to another licensed dealer or distributor. If these rules were extended to e-cigarettes, the study authors argue it would essentially shut down a major loophole in access.

Getting proposed rules like the FDA’s passed takes time, but when it comes to the safety of children, the researchers argue there needs to be more urgency. Prior data has shown that from 2011 to 2013, the number of young Americans who used e-cigarettes but not conventional cigarettes more than tripled, from 79,000 to over 263,000. The study authors conclude that the ease with which teens can get e-cigarettes online—in a state that forbids the practice—stresses the need for more regulation, and fast.

TIME weather

Southern Snowstorm Knocks Out Power, Wipes Out Flights

Breck Gorman
Steve Helber—AP Breck Gorman clears his driveway with a blower during a snowstorm in Richmond, Va. on Feb. 26, 2015.

The storm left a trail of travel headaches, school closings and power outages

A swift-moving storm that dumped as much as 10 inches of snow and slush across the Deep South on Wednesday brought a wintry blast to the Mid-Atlantic on Thursday. Washington, D.C., and its suburbs were hit with 1 to 3 inches of snow before the storm tapered off after 10 a.m., The Weather Channel reported. It will remain too far offshore to bring significant snowfall to New York or hard-hit Boston.

The storm left a trail of travel headaches, school closings and power outages. More than 156,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina were without power, along with 4,000 in Virginia, 13,000 in Alabama and 2,400 in Georgia…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Health Care

Supreme Court Says Dentists Can’t Decide Who Gets to Whiten Your Teeth

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Getty Images

The Supreme Court has ruled that dentists can't hold a monopoly on teeth-whitening services

Dentists cannot have a monopoly on teeth whitening services, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court found that the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners was wrong when it sent “cease and desist” letters to companies that were offering teeth whitening at strip malls and kiosks. The board held that it was regulating the practice, but it was sued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for creating an advantage for its members and blocking competition.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the FTC, agreeing that the board was acting on behalf of private members and not as a state regulatory agency since it was not being actively monitored by the state.

North Carolina law does not specify whether teeth whitening is a practice only allowed by dentists. The smaller businesses were offering the procedures for a lower costs than the dentists.

TIME infectious diease

2 Superbug Deaths Reported in North Carolina

The bacteria is thought to kill 50% of those infected

Two North Carolina residents have died in recent months from a deadly “superbug,” out of the approximately 15 who have been treated.

Carolinas HealthCare System told the Associated Press it has begun an aggressive effort to combat the superbug, formally known as Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, which includes isolating the infected and using special cleaning procedures in rooms where they have stayed. Hospital officials cited patient privacy laws to explain why the deaths were not reported earlier.

The bacteria, which is thought to kill 50% of those infected, was recently revealed to have infected two patients who died in a California hospital. More than 100 more were thought to have been potentially exposed.

MORE: What You Need to Know About the California ‘Superbug’

[AP]

TIME Crime

Grand Jury Indicts Suspect in Chapel Hill Shootings

Craig Stephen Hicks, is seen in court in Chapel Hill on Feb. 11 2015
Chuck Liddy—AP Craig Stephen Hicks, from his first appearance in court in Chapel Hill on Feb. 11 2015

The deaths of the three Muslims sparked outrage over perceived media religious and racial biases

A North Carolina grand jury on Monday indicted Craig Hicks, the man accused of shooting three Muslim students in their apartment, on three counts of murder.

The indictment, first reported by WRAL and WTVD television channels, accuses the 46-year-old Chapel Hill resident of killing University of North Carolina dental student Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her 19-year-old sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in what police have said was a crime sparked by a row over a parking space.

Friends and family have called for the killings to be classified as a hate crime, which would demand a more severe sentence. Investigators say they do not have enough evidence to support that claim.

Hicks described himself as an avowed atheist, and the New York Times reports that last month he criticized religion in a Facebook post, saying, “Praying is pointless, useless, narcissistic, arrogant, and lazy; just like the imaginary god you pray to.”

The murders triggered public outrage over perceived religious and racial injustices as the hashtags #muslimlivesmatter and #chapelhillshooting trended on Twitter. Some users have called for the media to brand Hicks a terrorist, suggesting that he would have been if he was a Muslim.

Hicks will remain in jail without bond and is next scheduled to appear in court on March 4.

[WRAL News]

TIME Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Says the Chapel Hill Shootings Were a ‘Terrorist’ Act

Namee Barakat, center, watches during funeral services for his son, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Feb. 12, 2015, in Wendell, N.C.
Chuck Liddy—The News/ Observer/AP Namee Barakat, center, watches during funeral services for his son Deah Barakat in Wendell, N.C., on Feb. 12, 2015

Thousands also march in Qatar to show solidarity with victims

Saudi Arabia has condemned the killing of three American Muslims in North Carolina as “heinous” and a “terrorist” act.

A statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency on Sunday also called for an end to incitement against Muslims, the Associated Press reports.

On Sunday, several thousand people took part in a march in neighboring Qatar to show solidarity with the families of the North Carolina victims.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is made up of 57 Muslim countries, also expressed concern, saying the murders reflected “rising anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobic acts” in the U.S.

Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Abu-Salha were killed last Tuesday by their neighbor Craig Hicks. The FBI is now investigating whether their deaths were the result of a hate crime.

[AP]

 

TIME Crime

Why So Many People See the UNC Killings as a Hate Crime

UNC Chapel Hill Shooting Muslim Students Vigil
Al Drago—The News & Observer/AP People light candles during a vigil on the campus of the University of North Carolina, for three Muslim students who were murdered, in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Feb. 11, 2015.

Erica Williams Simon is a cultural critic, speaker and media maker. She also curates content for Upworthy.com and is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.

We can't help but see the deaths of the three young students through our own experiences

In the aftermath of the shocking murders of three Muslim students, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21 and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, in North Carolina, vigils and social media symbols of solidarity abound. We’ve changed our profile pictures, created trending hashtags and joined prayer services, all trying frantically to process this latest act of senseless violence.

But as the country came together to mourn the loss of these precious young people, two of them newlyweds, it took no time for the “War Of The Narratives” to emerge around one central question: Were these killings hate crimes?

According to the victim’s family, the motivation was clear and it had to do with the family’s Muslim faith. Abu-Salha’s father has quoted his daughter as saying about the killer, “Honest to God, he hates us for what we are and how we look.”

But new information is also emerging minute by minute that suggests that the suspect, who has been charged with three counts of murder, had a constant, general angry nature and “parking obsession”, leading some to believe that this really was merely a “parking dispute gone horribly wrong.”

The FBI has also begun an investigation and as we wait to see what they uncover, it’s worth looking at the context that informs the thinking of those who have taken to the virtual streets to make the connection between the deaths of these students and the way they looked, what they wore, and what they believed.

The context that informs this assumption has nothing to do with the nuances of official investigations and everything to do with history, lived experiences and common sense. Many of us understand that hatred and bias, like God, work in mysterious ways.

We can’t help but wonder: Did their otherness provoke an exaggerated and disproportionate sense of anger over an otherwise minor dispute? Was it their headscarves (hijab) that drew a killer’s attention to them in the first place? Did their Arab names invite an elevated volume, an antagonistic tone, overly aggressive body language?

For those of us who proudly wear our “otherness” on our skin, our bodies, our hair, the questions of bias and motive—why was she so rude to me? why did they speak to me that way? why is he being to angry? why is this unfair and unjust thing happening to me?—are a harrowing constant. Is this action, this situation, a direct response to who I am? The answer, as shown throughout history, is too often a resounding yes.

With that context in mind, the immediate assumption by many that this was a hate crime cannot be written off as a “rush to judgment” by a social media driven, protest hungry culture. It must be viewed as what it is: An obvious, contextualized, intelligent and reflexive positioning born of decades of exclusion and hatred. And for post-9/11 American Muslims living in an American Sniper obsessed culture, it would be ludicrous to think any other way.

I wish it weren’t so. I want to someday live in a world where when a senseless thing like this happens, thinking that bias was the cause seems as absurd as a parking dispute. I want to live in a world where we all feel the safety, community and love that 19-year-old Abu-Salha felt when she told public radio in an interview last summer: “It doesn’t matter where you come from. There’s so many different people from so many different places of different backgrounds and religions. But here we’re all one — one culture.”

But until that day, crimes that look, smell and feel like hate will continue to be called hate by those who regularly experience hate. And for those who don’t understand that experience, a simple suggestion:

As investigators work to solve the crime, do something to solve the hate. Actively work to change the unwelcoming, dangerous and prejudiced society that Muslim Americans – and many others – live and die in every single day. That will be an honor to these victims. That will be an honor to us all.

Read next: All Teachers Should Be Trained To Overcome Their Hidden Biases

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME remembrance

Scenes from the Vigil for Chapel Hill’s Shooting Victims

A huge crowd gathered Wednesday night to mourn Muslim students Deah Barakat, 23; his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19, who were murdered near the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill on Tuesday.

TIME Lottery

North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Texas Tickets Win Powerball

A lottery representative hands out free Powerball tickets in Lincoln, Neb., Feb. 11, 2015
Nati Harnik—AP A lottery representative hands out free Powerball tickets in Lincoln, Neb., Feb. 11, 2015

The Powerball jackpot of $564.1 million will be split among the winning tickets

(DES MOINES, Iowa) — Tickets in North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Texas have matched all six numbers to split a $564.1 million Powerball jackpot, lottery officials said Thursday.

Sue Dooley, senior drawing manager and production coordinator for the Multi-State Lottery Association, said the Puerto Rico ticket was the first Powerball jackpot winner ever sold outside the continental United States.

Puerto Rico joined Powerball less than a year ago. Besides 44 states and Washington, D.C., the game is also played in the Virgin Islands, but there has never been a jackpot winner there, Dooley said.

The Texas Lottery posted on Twitter early Thursday that one of the winning tickets was sold at Appletree Food Mart in Princeton, Texas. There was no immediate information on the cities or stores that produced the winners in North Carolina or Puerto Rico.

It had been nearly a year since a Powerball prize reached the giant number people have come to expect recently. That was last February, when someone won $425.3 million.

Wednesday’s jackpot was the third-largest in Powerball history and the fifth-largest U.S. lottery prize. The last time a Powerball jackpot climbed so high was May 2013 when a Florida ticket won a $590.5 million prize.

Should the winners select the lump sum option, each would get a one-third share of $381,138,450.16 before taxes. The other option is an annuity, under which the lottery would make payments 30 times over 29 years.

The largest payout in U.S. history was to three ticketholders in the Mega Millions game, the other national lottery drawing. That was a $656 million prize won in March 2012 by players in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland.

In 2012, state officials who run Powerball and Mega Millions changed ticket prices and lowered the odds of winning jackpots in hopes the moves would increase the number of huge prizes and draw more players. The new rules worked, causing jackpots to repeatedly climb to record levels. More than half of the top 10 U.S. jackpots have been reached in the past couple of years.

The winning numbers in Wednesday’s drawing were: 11, 13, 25, 39, 54 and the Powerball 19.

The jackpot now goes back to $40 million for the next drawing on Saturday.

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: Muslim Students Killed in North Carolina

Man charged with homicide over fatal shooting, but motive is as yet unclear

A man was charged with murdering three Muslim students at an apartment complex in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Tuesday.

Watch #KnowRightNow for the latest on this developing story.

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