TIME Senate

Scott Brown Set to Announce Senate Campaign This Week

Sen. Scott Brown on Capitol Hill in 2012.
Scott Brown on Capitol Hill in 2012. Alex Brandon—AP

The former Massachusetts Senator, a prolific Republican fundraiser who won the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat in 2010 against Martha Coakley then lost it to Elizabeth Warren in 2012, is expected to officially announce his bid in New Hampshire on Thursday

Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown will officially announce his bid for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire on Thursday, he said in an email sent to supporters Monday.

The announcement-of-the-announcement was long expected for the Republican lawmaker, who will be up against Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

“As I’ve travelled across the state and added miles on my truck, I’ve heard the same concerns at every stop,” Brown wrote in his e-mail. “You’ve told me you want a stronger economy with more good-paying jobs. You want a government that doesn’t spend more than it takes in. Most of all, you want a health care system that works for New Hampshire – not one that leaves you with higher premiums, cancelled policies and fewer medical options.”

Brown won the late Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat in a 2010 upset against Martha Coakley. He then lost the seat to Elizabeth Warren in 2012. Brown is known as one of the most prolific Republican fundraisers, making him an attractive candidate for national Republicans who want to unseat Shaheen.

The first fundraiser for Brown’s Senate campaign is set for Monday night, the Boston Globe reports.

TIME Population

4 Key Takeaways from New Census Data

New Census Data: Four Key Takeaways
Getty Images

Population growth and migratory patterns show a changing nation.

U.S. Census population figures released Thursday provide a glimpse of the nation’s hot (and cold) spots.

In a three-year span from mid-2010 to mid-2013, the U.S. had a natural population increase of 4.7 million people (that is, the number of births minus the number of deaths). Coupled with a net migration increase of some 2.7 million people, the country’s population jumped 7.4 million to an estimated 316 million.

Not all metro areas are growing at the same clip, however. Some are pulling ahead by drawing more immigrants or by luring residents of other regions with the promise job opportunities.

Which are the boomtowns? That depends on how you filter the data, but here are the highlights:

North Dakota metros surge
The state’s oil boom has bolstered some metro areas by double-digit percent growth. With a 31% population increase, Williston, N.D., beat out all U.S. metros by percent change. Nearby, the Dickinson, N.D., metro area grew 16%. All other U.S. metro areas fell in line thereafter.

“Any time before 2008, North Dakota had out-migration decade after decade,” says Kevin Iverson, Manager of North Dakota Census office. “People were leaving for economic opportunities outside the state.” But more recently, he says, the oil industry has bolstered both population and per-capita income in the western regions of the state. In the last three years, he adds, 38 of the state’s 53 counties have grown. Roughly half of the influx is from Minnesota.

American Fact Finder/Census.gov

Puerto Rico falls behind Where are residents moving away? Four of the ten U.S. metro areas with the greatest population losses (by number of people) are in Puerto Rico. Some of the population decline is attributed to lower birth rates on the island. But the more significant loss stems from a battered economy and pervasive crime – two factors that push out professionals, students and middle-class families to mainland states like Florida and Texas.

American Fact Finder/Census.gov

Texas draws a crowd Slice population data by migration (who’s moving in, domestically or internationally) and Texas metros top the charts. By total net migration, the Houston area drew some 205,000 people. Dallas came in third and Austin fifth among all U.S. metro areas. While foreign immigrants have bolstered the Lone Star state’s headcount, U.S. residents from all over the country – lured by job opportunities and lower taxes – have contributed to the surge.

American Fact Finder/Census.gov

Big metro areas stay on top By sheer influx of people, Houston, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles and Washington top the charts. Seven metro areas netted more than 200,000 people. San Francisco, Seattle and Phoenix, among others, also saw six-digit growth in the last three years.

American Fact Finder/Census.gov

This Map Shows the Most Popular Attractions in Every State

A lot of people really like the L.L. Bean flagship store

Approximately 17 million people go to Walt Disney World every year. And 3.5 million people who go to Maine check out the L. L. Bean flagship store annually.

This map pulled 2009 numbers from National Park Services, state tourism offices, and other statistical resources to show what the most popular attractions are in every state across the United States. Unfortunately no balls of twine made the cut. Everything is a popularity contest:

(Click to enlarge)

(h/t: Reddit)

TIME States

Court Upholds Texas Abortion Restrictions

An appeals court has overturned a ruling that deemed parts of a tough abortion law—doctors who perform abortions must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals—unconstitutional in a victory for proponents of the stringent legislation that led several clinics to close

A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld new abortion restrictions in Texas, a victory for proponents of one of the toughest abortion laws in the country that has already led to the closure of clinics in the state.

Under the law passed last year, doctors performing abortions must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The Republican-controlled statehouse also placed strict limits on doctors prescribing pills that induce abortions. The new regulations have led to the closure of at least a dozen Texas abortion clinics. Lawyers for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers argued that the regulations placed an undue burden on women trying to get an abortion. A lower court had ruled in October that the new rules violated the Constitution and that they served no medical purpose, but the federal appeals court overturned that ruling Thursday, the Associated Press reports.

Some aspects of the new law, including a requirement that abortions take place in a surgical facility, will not go into effect until September.


TIME States

Hawaii Debates Law Allowing Cops to Have Sex with Prostitutes

Hawaii Prostitution Police
A pedestrian walks in front of a Honolulu Police Department station in Honolulu's tourist area of Waikiki on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 Oskar Garcia—AP

Officers are urging lawmakers to pass a bill that aims to curb prostitution, as long as they keep in the exemption that allows cops to have sex with prostitutes during investigations. Critics say it only further victimizes sex workers

Hawaii lawmakers are debating a fiercely-criticized law that currently permits undercover police to have sex with prostitutes during investigations.

A new bill that clamps down on prostitution originally eliminated the sex exemption for officers on duty. But after law enforcement officials testified in favor of the exemption, the bill was amended to restore it, the Associated Press reports. The revised bill passed the state House and is set to go before a state Senate committee on Friday.

Police say the provision helps them catch sex workers in the act, but human trafficking experts who are critical of the law point out that the provision is unnecessary and only hurts sex workers—who are often forced into their positions—even more. Some say that women who have left their careers as prostitutes behind report being forced to give sexual favors to policemen who threaten them with arrest.

Critics say it seems impossible for every officer using this exemption to judge every prostitute’s situation—whether she has been forced into that lifestyle, her real age and more—before having intercourse with her. And advocates say the risk police will take advantage of prostitutes outweighs any benefits.

Even without such exemptions in place, police in other states have been accused of abusing sex workers. A former officer is facing charges in Philadelphia for allegedly raping two prostitutes and forcing them to do drugs at gunpoint. A cop in West Sacramento, Calif., was recently found guilty of raping prostitutes. And last year a Massachusetts officer pleaded guilty to threatening prostitutes with arrest unless they had sex with him.

Law enforcement officials say the exemption doesn’t lead to inappropriate behavior.

“All allegations of misconduct are investigated and the appropriate disciplinary action taken,” Michelle Yu, Honolulu police spokeswoman, told the AP.

Laws governing disclosure of police misconduct in Hawaii block the public from seeing whether an officer has ever faced disciplinary action for having sex with a prostitute.

During testimony, law enforcement officials would not reveal how often they use the exemption, claiming that doing so would alert pimps and prostitutes to how far policeman are and are not allowed to go, and compromise future investigations.

“As it is, we are already subject to ‘cop checking’ where prostitution subjects do certain acts or attempt to do certain acts to determine whether the person is an undercover officer,” Major Jerry Inouye of the Honolulu Police Department told local Hawaiian news station KITV.

Democratic state Rep. Karl Rhoads, the committee chairman who amended the proposal to restore the exemption, said that civilians cannot understand the measures necessary in undercover police work. “It’s a really murky area,” Rhoads said, according to the AP. “I was reluctant to interfere in something that they face all the time. If they think it’s necessary to not have it in the statute, this is one area where I did defer to them and say, ‘I hope you’re not having sex with prostitutes.'”

Hawaii’s law appears to be unique. Roger Young, who worked sex crimes for the FBI in Las Vegas for over 20 years, told the AP he didn’t know of “any state or federal law that allows any law enforcement officer undercover to penetrate or do what this law is allowing.”


TIME Crime

New Jersey Employee Stole Almost Half-a-Million Dollars… in Quarters

Thomas Rica, a former Ridgewood borough employee, stands with his attorney Robert Galantucci, during a hearing at the Bergen County Courthouse Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in Hackensack, N.J.
Thomas Rica, a former Ridgewood borough employee, stands with his attorney Robert Galantucci, during a hearing at the Bergen County Courthouse Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in Hackensack, N.J. Mitsu Yasukawa—he Record of Bergen County/AP

A Bergen County public works inspector who admitted to swiping about 1.8 million quarters—roughly 11.25 tons—over 25 months won't go to prison, but he will begin paying back the stolen money

A public works inspector in New Jersey admitted Wednesday to stealing more than $460,000 in quarters over a span of 25 months.

Thomas Rica, 43, was arrested last year and fired for taking $500 in coins. A Bergen County investigation found that his coin collection was, in fact, much larger. He pleaded guilty Wednesday to four counts of third-degree theft from the village of Ridgewood, The Record newspaper reports.

Officials say Rica gained access to a room in the Village Hall with his master key, where he regularly took handfuls of coins, sometimes several times a week. Four separate times, he took more than $500, his lawyer Robert Galantucci, said at Wednesday’s hearing.

Rica deposited his illicit earnings at coin machines in multiple different bank branches, eluding authorities even though the coins he took over two years amounted to more than half of Ridgewood’s total annual collection from parking meters.

The 1.8 million quarters—roughly 11.25 tons—helped complement Rica’s $86,000 salary, The Record reports. Rica’s plea deal means that he won’t go to prison but will instead have to pay back the stolen money, beginning with an initial lump sump of $69,000 followed by at least $2,000 a month.

It needn’t be in coins.

[The Record]

TIME Crime

Cops Find 100 People in Texas Home in Apparent Smuggling Bust

Suspected Human Smuggling Houston
Authorities search people, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in southeast Houston. Cody Duty—Houston Chronicle/AP

Police in Houston find more than 100 people crammed into a 1,500-square-foot, single-family house while searching for a woman who was reported missing. Most are from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador

Houston police searching for a woman who had been reported missing by her family discovered a house overflowing with more than 100 people Wednesday in what appeared to be part of a human smuggling operation.

Police discovered the home just outside Houston while searching for a 24-year-old woman who had been reported missing, along with her two young children, the Associated Press reports. When they searched the home, they found 94 men—all in their undergarments and without shoes—and 15 women (including the missing woman and her children) in a 1,500-square-foot house. The people were lying in filth in several small rooms with access to only one bathroom, the AP reports.

Police spokesman John Cannon said most of the people had been in the home for a few days, and one woman said she had been there more than two weeks. “It was just filth, very squalid-like conditions inside,” Cannon said. “Trash bags with clothing piled as high as you can see. … Some were just sitting on top of one another because there was just no room.”

Houston police handed over investigation of the matter to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which said the people in the home were primarily from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. A pregnant woman and a man were taken to the hospital for treatment, and all others will be fed and questioned. A spokesman for ICE told the AP it was too early in the investigation to say whether the house was part of a human trafficking operation, but it appeared that way.

The ICE spokesman also said it has been years since police discovered a house in the Houston area with that many people inside; in 2012, police found a house containing 86 people.


TIME Transportation

People in California Are Using Their Cars Less

A new California Department of Transportation report shows that walking, biking, and public transportation trips have more than doubled since 2000.

California residents, long known for taking to the freeways, have dramatically reduced their dependency on cars, according to a new report.

The report by the California Department of Transportation indicates that almost 23 percent of California household trips are made by walking, biking, or using public transportation, more than double the rate in 2000. The results are driven by what the department calls a “dramatic increase” in walking trips, which have jumped from about eight percent to about sixteen percent of household trips. Still, the vast majority of trips are still in cars, vans, and trucks.

It’s “a shift with real benefits for public health that also cuts greenhouse gases and smog-forming pollution,” Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, said in a statement.

The study surveyed more than 42,000 households and nearly 109,000 Californians. The information is a cause of celebration for environmentalists who have seen mixed trends nationwide, as the number of car miles driven annually peaked about a decade ago, the Los Angeles Times reports. But congestion has risen recently due to the recovering economy.

TIME Drug Policy

Heroin Deaths Spike in Cleveland Area

A Cleveland police officer looks over bags of heroin at a news conference in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2010.
A Cleveland police officer looks over bags of heroin at a news conference in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2010. Amy Sancetta—AP

New figures released by a Cleveland medical examiner show heroin-induced deaths in the metropolitan area hit a record 195 last year, well above the 161 in 2012, highlighting what Attorney General Eric Holder calls an “urgent and growing public health crisis"

Heroin-induced deaths have risen sharply in the Cleveland metropolitan area to a record 195 last year, a local medical examiner said Thursday.

The 2013 heroin-related death toll in Cuyahoga County in Ohio was a significant increase from 161 overdose deaths in 2012 and just 40 in 2007, Cleveland.com reports, and the latest example of what Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday called an “urgent and growing public health crisis.”

“It was my hope that 2013 would see the number of heroin fatalities decrease, but that was not the case,” said Dr. Thomas Gilson, the Cuyahoga County medical examiner. There were more heroin-related deaths than homicides.

Authorities across the country are confronting a resurgence in heroin, fueled partly by a larger, cheaper supply from Latin American cartels and a bigger market for opiates driven by prescription painkillers.

In his address earlier this week, Holder announced that the Justice Department would combat the epidemic through a mix of enforcement and treatment efforts. Heroin use has been rising nationwide since 2007, growing from 373,000 yearly users to 669,000 in 2012, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Heroin overdose deaths have also spiked, increasing 45 percent from 2006 to 2010, according to the most recently available data from the Drug Enforcement Administration.



Colorado Court Says Pot Convictions Could Be Overturned Under New Law

Convictions that were under appeal when the new law allowing recreational weed took effect can be thrown out, a Colorado court ruled Thursday. The decision could impact hundreds of people who were jailed for pot possession

An appeals court in Colorado ruled Thursday that some people previously convicted of marijuana possession could have their convictions overturned after voters in the state legalized recreational marijuana in 2012.

The Colorado Court of Appeals, considering the case of a women convicted of multiple drug charges, said convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana that were under appeal when the law took effect could have their convictions reversed, the Associated Press reports. The ruling could impact hundreds of people who were jailed for possession of marijuana, marijuana legalization advocate Brian Vicente told the AP.

The office of the state Attorney General said prosecutors are reviewing the opinion to determine any next steps.


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