TIME Bizarre

The 32 Most Surprising Photos of the Month

From the return of Kim Jong Un to spooky Halloween traditions, TIME shares the most outrageous and intriguing images from October 2014

TIME Crime

Jealous Friend Implicates Love Rival in Obama Assassination Plot

U.S. President Obama arrives onboard Air Force One at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York
U.S. President Barack Obama arrives on board Air Force One at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y., on Aug. 29, 2014 Jonathan Ernst—Reuters

The man called 911 and said his former roommate planned to kill the President during a visit to New York State

A jealous man from Yonkers, N.Y., has admitted falsely telling police that a female friend’s boyfriend was planning to assassinate U.S. President Barack Obama during a visit to Westchester County in August.

Juan Medina, 31, called 911 on Aug. 29 when Obama was in Westchester for two fundraisers, USA Today reported. He told them that an acquaintance from New Haven, Conn., was on his way to New York State armed with two assault rifles and intent on killing the President.

Agents from a host of law-enforcement agencies rushed to locate the man he’d named and finally swooped on the town of Hamden, in Connecticut. The man said he suspected his former roommate and girlfriend’s friend of placing the emergency call, leading them back to Medina.

Although Medina denied placing the hoax call on two separate occasions last month, he finally confessed after failing a lie-detector test during a second interview.

The confession was reported by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who said Medina tried to get the Connecticut man in trouble because he did not approve of his relationship with his girlfriend.

Medina was charged on Wednesday with one count of making false statements to authorities, and has since been released on $25,000 bail.

[USA Today]

TIME #TheBrief

#TheBrief: Ebola Quarantines Get Political

While the federal government works to contain Ebola in the U.S., states are taking matters into their own hands—and butting heads with the White House and the CDC in the process.

The attempt to contain the spread of Ebola in the United States is becoming political, with governors imposing varying, stringent, and sometimes unclear quarantine rules that are hard to enforce across state lines.

President Barack Obama spoke out against these policies Wednesday, saying, “We don’t want to discourage our health care workers from going to the front lines. They are doing God’s work over there, and they are doing it to keep us safe.”

Here’s your brief on the science and politics of Ebola.

TIME 2014 Election

New Republican Ad Links ISIS, Ebola and Guantanamo

Republicans are using scare tactics before Halloween

The 2014 campaign of fear just crowned a new champion. The Republican National Committee released a new ad Monday that ties together ISIS, “terrorists committing mass murder,” Ebola and Guantanamo Bay, blaming each on Barack Obama’s policies, which are “on the ballot,” as the President has said.

And just in time for Halloween, the clip debuts a scary party slogan – “Vote to keep terrorists off U.S. soil. Vote Republican.”

That line is technically a reference to Obama’s long-stated desire to close Guantanamo Bay and move the suspected terrorists to U.S. prisons. But taken in isolation, it suggests, of course, that a vote for Democrats is a vote for allowing a terrorist invasion.

The RNC will run the ad on pre-roll in eight states with competitive Senate races: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Louisiana and Virginia.

Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Michael Czin responded to the ad in an email to TIME, “Seriously? Did they have Saturday Night Live produce this ad, because it’s a joke. The Republican party has become a caricature of itself, and this ridiculous ad is the latest example.”

Good luck to the fact checkers, who will now have to score the ad as deceptive or not. (The correct answer: It is both deceptive, and not deceptive.)

TIME ebola

Obama Hugs Nurse Who Survived Ebola

President Barack Obama hugs nurse Nina Pham, who was declared free of the Ebola virus after contracting the disease while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas, during a meeting in the Oval Office in Washington on Oct. 24, 2014.
President Barack Obama hugs nurse Nina Pham, who was declared free of the Ebola virus after contracting the disease while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas, during a meeting in the Oval Office in Washington on Oct. 24, 2014. Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images

The nurse was cleared of Ebola Friday morning

A few days ago, Dallas nurse Nina Pham lay in bed in an isolated hospital room at National Institutes of Health (NIH) where her doctors donned hazmat suits to care for her. On Friday, President Barack Obama hugged Pham, now free of Ebola, in the open air of the Oval Office.

“Let’s give a hug for the cameras,” he told Pham.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, NIH infectious disease head Anthony Fauci, along with several other doctors and family members, were also present at the Friday meeting.

Pham contracted Ebola while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, who died Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Pham was subsequently moved to NIH in Maryland to undergo treatment, and was declared Ebola-free Friday morning.

After a patient was diagnosed with Ebola in New York City on Thursday, the hug was a triumphant moment amid continued fear over the potential for Ebola to spread in the U.S. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told journalists at press briefing Friday that Pham’s recovery served as “a pretty apt reminder that we do have the best medical infrastructure in the world.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 22

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Don’t conflate a cause with its celebrity.

By Kriss Dieglmeier at the Tides Foundation

2. Handwashing and Ebola: Understanding the power of a proven public health intervention.

By Hanna Woodburn in Ebola Deeply

3. President Obama has remade the federal courts by appointing more women and non-white judges than ever before. The impact will far outlast his administration.

By Jeffrey Toobin in the New Yorker

4. It’s vital that new pre-K initiatives are designed to build a high-quality foundation for learning.

By Beverly Falk in Hechinger Report

5. Trafficked workers — who often enter the country legally before being exploited — power many American cities.

By Tanvi Misra in Citylab

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

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 2014 Election

Voters Say Events in U.S. ‘Out of Control’

Poll finds anxiety on a range of issues, from Ebola to health care costs

Call it the Freakout Election.

Two-thirds of likely voters in the most competitive states and congressional districts in the midterm election fight think events in the U.S. are “out of control,” according to a new poll. The survey by Politico found widespread anxiety about the Ebola outbreak, terrorism, health care costs and President Barack Obama’s leadership. Only 36% think the U.S. is “in a good position to meet its economic and national security” challenges.

The poll underscores how both Obama’s low approval ratings and a general sense of disarray are weighing down Democrats just weeks before voters go to the polls to decide which party will control the Senate. A majority of voters, 54%, either strongly disapprove or somewhat disapprove of Obama’s job performance.

Read more at Politico

MONEY credit cards

Obama’s Credit Card Was Declined—No, Really.

US President Barack Obama tells a story about his credit card was recently declined at a restaurant
Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images

The president shared a story about his own credit card troubles during an executive order signing at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

First, we heard that the former chair of the Federal Reserve couldn’t get a mortgage. Then we learned that one of the most powerful economic figures in the world makes less money than at least 113 of her underlings.

Now we find out that President of the United States had his credit card declined.

At an event at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today, President Obama said a New York restaurant rejected his card last month. But it wasn’t because he maxed out his credit (or so he says).

“I guess I don’t use it enough, so they thought there was some fraud going on,” Obama said. “I was trying to explain to the waitress, no, I really think that I’ve been paying my bills.”

The President made his remarks while signing an executive order to improve security features on government credit cards. “Even I’m affected by this,” Obama joked.

Luckily, Michelle picked up the tab.

Read on for more help with common credit woes:

Read next: Obama Signs Order to Secure Government Credit Cards From Data Breaches

TIME

The Chicken Littles Were Wrong. But Americans Still Think the Sky Is Falling.

The list of false prophesies of doom by Obama's critics is long.

The U.S. economy has added jobs for 55 consecutive months, bringing unemployment below 6 percent. The budget deficit has fallen from $1.2 trillion when President Obama took office to less than $500 billion today, from an unsustainable 10 percent of GDP to a relatively stable 3 percent. More than 10 million Americans have gained health insurance through Obamacare, while medical costs are growing at their lowest rate in decades. Gasoline prices are gradually dropping. Medicare’s finances are dramatically improving.

The sky, in other words, is not falling. On the contrary, things keep getting better. Which means a lot of people have a lot of explaining to do.

To recognize that America is doing better is not to suggest that America is doing great. Wages are too low. Washington is dysfunctional. There’s too much depressing news about Ebola, gridlock and our perpetual conflicts abroad. But the Cassandras of the Obama era ought to admit their predictions of doom were wrong. There has been no hyperinflation, no double-dip recession, no Greece-style debt crisis, no $5-a-gallon-gas, no rolling blackouts, no “insurance death spiral.” Despite “job-killing tax hikes” and “job-killing regulations” and “job-killing uncertainty” created by the “job-killing health care law,” private employers are consistently creating more than 200,000 jobs a month. Our gradual recovery from the 2008 financial crisis continues apace.

Some of the wrong predictions of the last six years merely reflected the paranoia of the Tea Party right—or the cynical exploitation of that paranoia. In 2008, Newt Gingrich got some attention by warning that President Obama would muzzle Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity; it worked so well that in 2012, he predicted that Obama would declare war on the Catholic Church the day after his reelection. The National Rifle Association’s fever-screams that Obama would cancel the Second Amendment and seize America’s guns have not come to pass, either, although they helped boost gun sales. Sarah Palin’s “death panels” also have yet to materialize.

It’s doubtful that those opportunists ever believed their own Chicken Little rhetoric; when their doomsday warnings were proven wrong, they simply issued new doomsday warnings. But other prophecies of doom reflected a sincere view of the economy and other public policy issues that simply happened to be incorrect.

The government response to the financial crisis probably inspired the most wrongheaded commentary. Critics complained that the Wall Street bailouts begun by President Bush and continued by Obama would cost taxpayers trillions of dollars. “If we spent a million dollars ever day since the birth of Christ, we wouldn’t get to $1 trillion,” fumed Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House government oversight committee. Ultimately, the bank bailouts cost taxpayers less than nothing; the government has cleared more than $100 billion in profits on its investments. Obama’s bailout of General Motors and Chrysler also inspired some overheated commentary; Mitt Romney wrote that if it happened, “you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.” But it did happen, and the American automotive industry is now thriving, saving an estimated 1.5 million jobs.

It’s fun looking back at misguided crisis predictions. Liberal critics like Paul Krugman warned that the banking system would collapse unless it was temporarily nationalized; Krugman scoffed that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s “stress test” would never end the crisis. “He was right,” Krugman later admitted, “I was wrong.” Conservatives like Dick Morris warned that the president’s $800 billion fiscal stimulus package and other activist policies would create an “Obama Bear Market”; in fact, the Dow has soared more than 250 percent since bottoming out in March 2009. Conservatives like Paul Ryan have also consistently warned that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary stimulus would weaken the dollar—their preferred phrase is “debase the currency”—and create crippling inflation. They have been consistently wrong, as inflation has remained stubbornly low.

After the Great Recession ended in the summer of 2009—sooner than anyone (especially historians of financial crises) predicted—Republicans quickly turned their attention to the budget deficit, which had ballooned to $1.4 trillion. They complained that America was becoming Greece, that we were spending our way into a sovereign debt crisis, that brutal increases in interest rates were on the way. But America did not become Greece. There has been no debt crisis. Interest rates have remained historically low. In fact, despite the howling on the right, non-military spending (excluding mandatory expenses like Medicare) has dropped to its lowest level since the Eisenhower administration. Oh, and speaking of Medicare, its financial position has gotten so much better—thanks to a general slowdown in health care costs—that its trust fund, which was expected to go bust in 2017 when Obama took office, is now expected to remain solvent through 2030.

That slowdown in medical costs is another example of a phenomenon that critics confidently predicted would never happen in the era of Obamacare. Also, the administration would never meet its goal of 7 million signups by April 2014. (The actual figure topped 8 million.) Yes, but they would never pay their premiums. (The vast majority did.) OK, but those premiums would surely soar. (They haven’t.) Still, the entire program will be doomed to a “death spiral” unless healthy young people sign up in large numbers. (They have.)

Nevertheless, most Americans seem to think that Obamacare is a failure, that the economy stinks, that the deficit is getting worse. There are many explanations for those beliefs, but one is surely that initial predictions of doom are uncritically reported at the time and conveniently forgotten once they’re disproven. There is no penalty in American politics for being wrong. Republicans paid no price for their confident predictions that President Clinton’s tax hikes would destroy the economy, that the Bush tax cuts would pay for themselves, that the Obama tax hikes would create a double-dip recession. Even after the BP spill, petroleum interests proclaimed that tighter regulations on offshore drilling would ravage the oil industry and punish Americans at the pump; domestic production is at an all-time high while gas prices are steadily dropping, but they haven’t changed their tune at all. Similarly, even after the financial meltdown, Wall Street moneymen said financial reforms would shred our free enterprise system; they’re still whining despite their record profits.

Obama is often guilty of rhetorical overkill, too. He’s always warning that Armageddon is just around the corner—when Republicans blocked his American Jobs Act and other infrastructure bills, when they insisted on the deep spending cuts in the “sequester,” and when they threatened to force the Treasury to default on its obligations. (Actually, that last one almost did create Armageddon.) But because he’s president, the media correctly holds his feet to the fire, pointing out that he didn’t keep his promises to fix Washington or let you keep your insurance if you like it. There’s less accountability for his critics on the left and the right.

There’s no need for sympathy; Obama volunteered for the job. He gets a cool plane and a nice house regardless of public perceptions about the state of the country. But if you want to know why voters think the false prophets were right, maybe it’s because nobody ever corrected them.

TIME Pictures of the Week

Pictures of the Week: Oct. 3 – Oct. 10

From the first Ebola death in the US and rising tension on the Turkish Syrian border, to the blood moon and Putin’s surprising selfie, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

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