TIME Mississippi

Mississippi Senator Says State Flag ‘Should Be Put in A Museum’

Senate Luncheons Roger Wicker
Tom Williams—Getty Images Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., speaks at a news conference after the senate luncheons in the Capitol, Jan. 7, 2015.

After "reflection and prayer," the senator has reversed a Monday statement that the decision should be left to the will of the people

A Republican senator from Mississippi came out in favor of replacing the state’s flag Wednesday, saying, “After reflection and prayer, I now believe our state flag should be put in a museum.”

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker said in a public statement that while he previously did not see the Confederate flag in the upper left corner of the state flag as offensive, his opinions have changed in light of the recent public backlash after a shooting in a historically black church in Charleston, S.C. last week. “It is clearer and clearer to me that many of my fellow citizens feel differently and that our state flag increasingly portrays a false impression of our state to others,” Wicker said.

The statement marks a reversal from Wicker’s stance on Monday that he would leave the decision on Mississippi’s flag up to “the will of the people of Mississippi.” He is joined by House Speaker Philip Gunn, who called the state flag “a point of offense that needs to be removed.”

Read Next: Why Mississippi Is Unlikely to Redesign Its State Flag

 

TIME global trade

Obama’s Trade Agenda Survives Key Senate Procedural Vote

Barack Obama
Pablo Martinez Monsivais — AP President Barack Obama speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

White House trade agenda clears key legal hurdle on its way to becoming law

(WASHINGTON) — The Senate pushed bipartisan trade legislation to the brink of final approval Tuesday in a combined effort by President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders to rescue a measure that appeared all but dead less than two weeks ago.

The legislation cleared a key hurdle on a 60-37 vote, precisely the number needed.

A final vote is expected by Wednesday on the House-passed measure, which would then go to the White House for Obama’s signature.

It is one of several measures comprising Obama’s second-term trade agenda as the administration works to finalize a 12-nation agreement among countries on both sides of the Pacific Ocean

Another bill, to provide federal aid to workers who lose their jobs because of imports, is also awaiting approval. The rescue plan hatched last week calls for the Senate to pass that measure and the House to follow suit later this week, just before lawmakers begin a July 4 vacation.

Eager to reassure Democrats who expressed doubt about a GOP commitment to pass the follow-up bill, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, issued a statement saying the House will vote on it “once it passes the Senate.”

The legislation has the support of the administration and business organizations, who say it is necessary to win lower barriers to U.S-made goods around the world.

Opponents include organized labor and most Democrats in Congress, who argue that past global trade deals have resulted in the large scale loss of American jobs — and claim this time would be no different.

Those differences were reflected on the Senate floor.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the vote demonstrated “we can work together on something that’s important for our country.”

But Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said it would be a “day of celebration in corporate suites.”

The vote in the Senate was similar to an earlier roll call on the same legislation.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a presidential hopeful, flipped his vote from support to opposition, saying it had become “enmeshed in corporate backroom deal making.”

He did not say why he initially voted for it.

Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, voted against advancing the bill after supporting its passage on the earlier vote. His office provided no immediate explanation for the shift.

In all 47 Republicans and 13 Democrats joined forces to assure the bill’s progress.

The negotiating authority that Obama seeks is known as “fast-track.” Most recent presidents have said the same power. Without it, the bill’s supporters say, other nations would be highly reluctant to make the type of compromises that are necessary to seal global trade deals, because they fear that Congress would demand additional concessions.

The week’s maneuvering came a little less than two weeks after the House derailed the trade legislation in a revolt triggered by union-backed Democrats and supported by the party’s leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California.

Originally, the trade negotiating authority and program of aid for displaced workers were part of one bill, but subject to separate votes.

Democrats who normally support the aid turned against it in the House, and voted it down. That temporarily derailed the entire legislation, sending Obama, McConnell and Boehner scurrying to come up with a rescue plan.

The revised approach was to separate the trade bill from the aid measure, and rely on a strong Republican vote to pass one of them, and a strong Democratic show of support to approve the other.

Obama has said consistently he wants both measures to reach his desk, but House Democrats have not yet said if they will try to block the aid program as part of a desperate move to persuade Obama not to sign the trade bill he so eagerly seeks.

Nor has Obama said what he would do if only the trade bill passes, and the aid measure remains stuck because Democrats without support.

MONEY online shopping

The Confederate Flag Is Getting Some Interesting Reviews on Amazon

tattered confederate flag
age fotostock—Alamy

"Is the other side of this flag a Nazi Swastika?"

On Monday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds. “For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble,” Haley said. Yet at the same time, she said, in light of the way the flag has been used by some as a symbol of hate—most obviously, by the suspect in last week’s deadly shooting in a historic black church in Charleston—”the flag is a deeply offensive symbol” that must be removed from the capitol grounds in Columbia.

Soon after Haley’s announcement, Walmart, Sears, and Kmart stated that they would stop selling flags and other merchandise featuring the Confederacy’s “Stars and Bars.” As of Tuesday morning, however, there was no sign of e-retailers Amazon and eBay following suit with bans of their own. Tens of thousands of items featuring the Confederate flag design remain available for purchase at the sites.

[UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long. By Tuesday afternoon, Amazon and eBay both announced they were removing Confederate flag merchandise from their sites.]

Considering that there’s a tradition for sarcastic and faux Amazon reviews to be used as bullhorns for political opinions—see the reviews of Wendy Davis’s Mizuno sneakers or Paula Deen’s books—it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people are weighing in on the Confederate flag controversy with new reviews. In many cases, they’re not only bashing the merchandise and the sellers, but also Amazon itself for facilitating the sales of what many deem to be a symbol of hate, racism, and intolerance.

Dozens of reviews have been added at Amazon.com over the last few days for one Confederate Rebel Flag in particular. Sold by a company called Rhode Island Novelty, the three-foot-by-five-foot polyester flag—made in Taiwan, priced at $5.74 (down from the “list price” of $45)—has drawn loads of one-star reviews and comments such as the following:

BAN IT…I just feel it symbolizes hatred toward minorities

Boycott the American version of a swastika. Whatever individual meanings it could have, there is no denying its ugly message.

If your [sic] a racist then this is the flag for you.

Worked great not only as toilet paper but really gets a fire going as well.

It’s offensive that this flag is on Amazon, I will not order another thing from Amazon until these things are taken off.

As Quartz pointed out, reviewers have been adding their two cents to the Q&A section for the item as well, with users entering sarcastic queries like, “Is the other side of this flag a Nazi Swastika? I only have one flag pole to show my pride in defunct nations based on racism.”

While the majority of new reviewers take aim at the Confederate flag merchandise and the sellers of such goods, some are defending the “Stars and Bars,” or at least the right of people to buy and sell the items. “This flag does NOT stand for racism and it’s NOT a rag,” one commenter stated. Another commented, “My husband and I both shop at Amazon all the time and if they STOP selling the Flag I’ll no longer shop here.”

Read next: 7 Things You Probably Had No Idea Amazon Sold

TIME Hollywood

15 Entertainers Who Were Labeled Communist in the Red Channels List

On June 22, 1950, these authors, actors and musicians were branded enemies to America

In Hollywood in the 1940s and ‘50s, a rumor of Communist sympathies was enough to end a person’s career—or at least to force it into an undesired hiatus. The creation of blacklists beginning in the late 1940s left many entertainers barred from performing in certain venues or in TV, radio and film. The Red Channels pamphlet, published on June 22, 1950, served to expand and enhance the existing mechanisms of the blacklists.

The 151 people listed by the right-wing journal Counterattack included actors, authors, musicians and journalists. Some had already been blacklisted, while for others the accusations were new. The fates of those named depended on whether they cooperated with the House Un-American Activities Committee (which many did not) and whether the accusations were ultimately substantiated. Some, like Judy Holliday, endured a period of unemployment before resuming their careers. For others, like actor John Garfield, the list spelled the end of their careers.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

TIME foreign affairs

This Weekend’s Foreign Policy Must-Reads

A roundup of the smartest takes on politics and global affairs

The Islamic State’s Je Ne Sais Quoi — Foreign Policy

“…the Islamic State may be a psychopathic organization, but that doesn’t mean that the vast majority of recruits attracted to it are. It’s not cynicism, disillusion, and dystopia that the Islamic State is trying to sell, but rather hope and identity, as well as personal and religious fulfillment…And the fact is for all its clever negative messaging to combat the Islamic State’s propaganda, the United States lacks an effective counter-narrative — indeed it lacks a narrative that even begins to compete with the emotional resonance and power of either the online savage theater of choreographed beheadings or the more uplifting appeal of “come and be part of a community that will give you purpose and direction.”

In the battle over hearts and minds in the Middle East, ISIS is mopping the floor with the US; why? There are lots of reasons, but one of the biggest has to be Washington’s weak social media game. Washington does social media like McDonald’s does social media—grudgingly, acknowledging that this is the way the world moves today but secretly pining for the simpler times when it was king…

Don’t get me wrong: ISIS is absolutely depraved and desperate, but it comes across as authentic to its target audience. It is selling hope and the possibility of a different future to the many people who look around at their lives and wish for something, anything else. That’s a powerful message. There are few things that American’s can learn from ISIS, but transmitting authenticity is one of them.

Pols and Polls Say the Same Thing: Jeb Bush Is a Weak Front-Runner – FiveThirtyEight

“Of course, it’s not clear whether money raised through a super PAC or other independent groups differs in its predictive power from money raised by a candidate. Super PACs in their current form are too recent a development to know for sure. If money is predictive because donations from a lot of individuals foretell future support, then Bush’s haul this year is less likely to mean something because super PACs raise a lot from a few donors. If early money matters because it says something about organizational strength, then Bush’s super PAC edge could put him over the top.”

Strong analysis, but why would anyone think Bush is a front-runner? I predict that there’ll be a solid 6 front runners minimum over the course of the race. Donald Trump will not be one of them.

A Private Sector Solution to the Migrant Crisis – Politico EU

“Founded by Christopher and Regina Catrambone in 2014, MOAS is the only private organization of its kind, and has saved the lives of more than 4,500 migrants stranded at sea. The group’s current mission, which began on May 2 and will run until the beginning of October, has already saved around 2000 souls… MOAS is a private enterprise, the only one of its kind, so the movement of its vessels across the Mediterranean is virtually uninhibited, a tremendous logistical advantage.”

I’ve already written about this story earlier in the week. Here’s the short version: there’s a migration crisis in Europe and European governments aren’t doing nearly enough to solve it. Luckily, others have picked up the slack. My pick of the week.

The GOP is Not Going to Win This Election on Foreign Policy – Foreign Policy

“Republican candidates for the party’s presidential nomination are out-hawking each other on the stump as the campaign gets underway: With the exception of Rand Paul, all the Republican candidates would repudiate the Iranian nuclear deal, would counter Russian aggression more forcefully, give more support to Israel, and exterminate the Islamic State. And even Rand Paul has been trying to stake out less isolationist ground. But there are several reasons to think Republicans are overstating the strength of foreign policy as a winning electoral issue in 2016.”

Sadly, I agree that foreign policy will not win anyone the presidency. But this is where Hillary’s most vulnerable, so it’s going to be far more important than 2012. At this point I’m willing to vote for anyone who can just present a coherent foreign policy that doesn’t collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. A political scientist can dream, right?

Foreign-affairs columnist Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy

TIME Race

The Confederate Flag In Every State, In Every Form, Must. Come. Down.

south carolina confederate flag
Mladen Antonov—AFP/Getty Images The South Carolina and US flags are seen flying at half-staff behind the Confederate flag erected in front of the State Congress building in Columbia, South Carolina on June 19, 2015.

J. Richard Cohen is president of the Southern Poverty Law Center

Exactly whose heritage does it celebrate?

Following the church shooting this week, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley offered powerful words of healing and said the “people of South Carolina need us to come together and be strong.”

But at the same time the state’s citizens are being urged to “come together,” the state continues to display a divisive symbol — the Confederate flag — outside the state Capitol.

Reacting to calls to remove it, Sen. Lindsey Graham said the flag “is part of who we are.”

His answer makes me wonder just who Graham means by “we.” Does he mean the white people of South Carolina? Does he mean the neo-Confederates of South Carolina? Surely he doesn’t mean the African Americans in his state whose ancestors were enslaved, tortured and murdered under the regime represented by that flag. Surely he doesn’t mean older African Americans who still recall the terrorism of Klansmen who adopted the flag as their standard during Jim Crow. Surely not.

Meanwhile, Haley danced around the question in the wake of the racist attack on the Emanuel AME Church by a young man who displayed an image of the Confederate flag on his vehicle. Her bottom line was that “right now, I’m not doing that to the people of my state.”

She seems blind to the fact that she’s doing something to a significant portion of the state every day, confronting them with a symbol of the state’s ugly past.

Like Graham, many white Southerners argue that the Confederate flag merely symbolizes family heritage or regional pride, and that their use of it isn’t intended as a hateful act. Displaying the flag in public places, they say, simply acknowledges its historic place in the cultural fabric of the South. But the time has come for South Carolina to take down the flag. Whatever its benign significance to some people, it historically signifies an era of slavery and oppression, and it has been appropriated as a symbol of hate by other groups. Those are facts, not an interpretation.

In his 1861 “Cornerstone” speech, Alexander H. Stephens, vice president of the Confederate States of America, left no doubt about what the Confederacy represented when he rejected the idea that slavery was a moral wrong: “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

Let me be clear: I don’t think that everyone who reveres the flag is racist. Surely all of the people who apply for state-issued license plates bearing the flag do not believe in the hatred with which some people display it. For many South Carolinians, the flag at this point may well represent heritage without the taint of past racism.

But they should ask themselves, Whose heritage are they celebrating?

Is the Confederate flag really a symbol around which people, to paraphrase Gov. Haley, can “come together and be strong?”

To truly honor those who were slain, the Confederate flag in every state, in every form, must come down.

J. Richard Cohen is president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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 White House

Read President Obama’s Statement Marking Juneteenth in Wake of Charleston Shooting

Barack Obama
Carolyn Kaster—AP President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about gun violence at the Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco, June 19, 2015.

President Obama issued remarks observing the June 19 celebration. Here is his statement in full:

On this day 150 years ago, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the slaves of Galveston, Texas finally received word that the Civil War was over. They were free. A century and a half later, Americans still recognize this occasion, Juneteenth, as a symbolic milestone on our journey toward a more perfect union. At churches and in parks, lined up for parades and gathered around the barbecue pit, communities come together and celebrate the enduring promise of our country: that all of us are created equal.

Yet this year, our celebrations are tinged with sorrow. Our prayers are with the nine members of the Mother Emanuel community — nine members of our American family — whose God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were so cruelly snatched away. Our hearts go out to their families, their friends, and the entire city of Charleston.

We don’t have to look far to see that racism and bigotry, hate and intolerance, are still all too alive in our world. Just as the slaves of Galveston knew that emancipation is only the first step toward true freedom, just as those who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years ago knew their march was far from finished, our work remains undone. For as long as people still hate each other for nothing more than the color of their skin – and so long as it remains far too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun – we cannot honestly say that our country is living up to its highest ideals. But Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory, or an acceptance of the way things are. Instead, it’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, things do get better. America can change.

So no matter our color or our creed, no matter where we come from or who we love, today is a day to find joy in the face of sorrow, to count our blessings and hold the ones we love a little closer. And tomorrow is a day to keep marching.

TIME Environment

Obama Administration Proposes Tougher Fuel Standards for Trucks

Fracking Jonah Field wyoming
Alex Milan Tracy—Sipa USA/AP Schlumberger trucks with 2000 horsepower pumps direct water, sand and chemicals over 11,000 feet into the ground to create a fracture at a completion site on the Jonah Field in Sublette County, Wyo., pictured on April 9, 2015.

As an effort to slow down global warming

(WASHINGTON)—The Obama administration on Friday proposed tougher mileage standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks, the latest move by President Barack Obama in his second-term drive to reduce pollution blamed for global warming.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued new rules that would lower carbon dioxide emissions from trucks and vans by 24 percent by 2027. It would cut fuel costs by about $170 billion and reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of vehicles sold under the rule.

The long-expected rules come one day after Pope Francis issued a teaching document calling for the world to take action to slow climate change.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement that the new rules would help the environment and the economy, as trucks use less fuel and shipping costs go down. He called the rules “good news all around.”

Gina McCarthy, chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, said the rules would deliver “big time” on Obama’s call to cut carbon pollution.

“With emission reductions weighing in at 1 billion tons, this proposal will save consumers, businesses and truck owners money,” McCarthy said. At the same time, the rules will “spur technology innovation and job-growth, while protecting Americans’ health and our environment over the long haul,” she said.

Medium and heavy-duty vehicles account for about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and oil use in the U.S. transportation sector, but comprise only 5 percent of vehicles on the road.

The proposed standards would cover model years 2021-2027 and apply to semi-trucks, large pickup trucks and vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks, officials said.

Once completed, the rules are expected to lower carbon dioxide emissions by about 1 billion metric tons.

The rule builds on fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards already in place for model years 2014-2018. Those rules are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 270 million metric tons and save vehicle owners more than $50 billion in fuel costs, compared to previous standards.

The rules will be open to public comment for at least two months and would be completed next year.

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TIME politics

Exclusive: Girl Who Asked Obama to Put Women on Bills ‘Really Excited’ About a Woman on the $10

She doesn't care that it's not the $20

No one is perhaps more excited about the Treasury’s announcement Wednesday that a woman will be featured on the $10 bill than a 10-year-old named Sofia.

The fourth grader in Massachusetts wrote a letter to President Obama last year asking why there weren’t any women on American bills. In the year since, a grassroots campaign called Women on 20s started a massive online petition to get a woman on the $20 bill instead of Andrew Jackson. In May, Women on 20s announced more than 600,000 people had voted in their poll, and that Harriet Tubman emerged as the winner. On May 12, leaders delivered petitions demanding she appear on the $20 to the White House Council on Women and Girls and to the office of U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios.

Some have argued they’d rather see a woman featured on the $20 bill instead of Jackson, saving Alexander Hamilton’s likeness on the $10 note, but the Treasury made clear in the announcement that no decision to fully remove him had been made: “There are many options for continuing to honor Hamilton. While one option is producing two bills, we are exploring a variety of possibilities.”

Regardless, Sofia says she’s thrilled. “I’m really excited that they’re going to truly get a woman on currency,” the junior ambassador for Women on 20s tells TIME. “I don’t care that it’s not the $20, I just want a woman on currency.”

Earlier this year, Sofia and her family visited the Treasury to learn more about how money is printed. While there, she left a note for Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, asking him to consider putting a woman on paper bills:

Courtesy of Sofia's mom
Courtesy of Kim B., Sofia’s mother

Rios personally called Sofia on Wednesday to tell her the Treasury would move to introduce a bill featuring a woman in 2020, a century after women were guaranteed the right to vote.

Sofia says she hopes that woman is Anne Hutchinson, the Puritan freedom fighter who inspired her to write Obama in the first place. She’d also be happy to see Rosa Parks on the $10 bill, since she was the person who she voted for out of the four finalists in the Women on 20s poll.

Her role in the movement has caused quite a stir in her fourth-grade classroom. “Whenever there’s a report or something about me, I always show it to all my classmates and share it, because my teachers let me,” she says. “They say it’s really cool and really awesome.”

It has also taught her the importance of speaking up. “I really think that if anyone has an idea that they think would be important or something they think needs to change, then they should do something about it,” she says. “They can do a lot of things, even if they’re kids.”

Read next: What Happened When the U.S. Decided to Put a Woman on Currency in 1978

TIME politics

House Passes ‘Fast Track’ Bill to Resurrect Obama Trade Agenda

John Boehner
Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP In this June 11, 2015 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Upcoming vote in the Senate could be a tough battle

(WASHINGTON) — The House has revived President Barack Obama’s embattled trade agenda. But a potentially tough Senate battle awaits.

The House voted 218 to 208 Thursday to grant Obama “fast track” authority to send Congress trade agreements it can reject or ratify but not change.

The Republican-driven vote marks a dramatic turnabout from last week’s stunning setback dealt to Obama by House Democrats. This time fast track was separated from another matter that the Democrats had used to scuttle the whole package.

The GOP-controlled Senate could take up the issue next week. The bill needs help from about a dozen Democrats. They want assurance that Congress also will renew federal aid for workers displaced by international trade.

Unions strongly oppose fast track. Obama says U.S. producers need it.

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