TIME Drugs

Emerging Drug Flakka Causing More Naked Rage and Paranoia Incidents

The new drug causes body temperature to spike dangerously

Flakka, a new designer drug popular in Florida, is continuing to generate bizarre incidents of naked rage and paranoia among users — but officials say it’s no laughing matter.

The synthetic drug has spawned a number of tales including how one Florida man believed he was Thor, and ran naked through a neighborhood and then tried to have sex with a tree, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Another flakka user ran nude down a busy city street, convinced he was being chased by a pack of German shepherds.

Flakka, which is similar to bath salts and usually smoked via electronic cigarettes, causes the naked incidents because it causes a spike in body temperature of up to 106 degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Like amphetamines, flakka users seek the high of the drug’s stimulation but may also become prone to violent outbursts, paranoia and hallucinations.

“I’ve had one addict describe it as $5 insanity,” Don Maines, a drug treatment counselor in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., told AP. “They still want to try it because it’s so cheap.”

Flakka has spread to other states besides Florida, where most incidents have been reported, including Ohio, Texas and Tennessee, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Read next: See Which State Has the Highest Daily Use of Mood-Altering Drugs

[AP]

TIME U.S.

Here’s Where It’s Legal for Women to Go Topless in the U.S.

A guide to patchwork and confusing laws on taking it off

Local officials in the Venice Beach neighborhood of Los Angeles voiced support this week for allowing women to sunbathe topless, calling the move “a serious equality issue” and citing the city’s Italian namesake as one of many European regions where toplessness is socially acceptable. But topless sunbathing is illegal in the city and county of Los Angeles, and the local disagreement is just the skin of a patchwork of nudity laws and customs that vary by state and municipality across the country.

The vast majority of states actually have laws on the books making clear that women can’t be arrested under state law solely for being topless in settings where it’s OK for men. But many local ordinances ban the practice anyway. And there’s plenty of grey area for police officers to make their own interpretations and make arrests for “public indecency” or “disorderly conduct.”

Celebrities like Chelsea Handler and Miley Cyrus have been public critics of what they call a double-standard that women face when it comes to going shirtless, and have tried to get Instagram to stop taking down photos of breasts, garnering some support with the hashtag #FreeTheNipple. Scout Willis, daughter of the actor Bruce Willis, recently illustrated the point that women are technically permitted to walk the streets of New York City topless—but not to post topless photos on Instagram—by posting shirtless photos of herself on city sidewalks to Twitter.

GoTopless.org

So how to keep track of it all? The organization GoTopless, which advocates for “toplessness equality” in the U.S., has put together the map above illustrating the different laws in different states. Though green states indicate there is some degree of “topless freedom,” that does not mean it’s legal for women to go shirtless throughout the state. Local ordinances may ban or allow the practice in opposition to state law, and California is listed green despite the fight in Venice Beach. Orange states have “ambiguous laws;” in red states, female toplessness is illegal.

Even in areas with topless freedom, police officers may still arrest citizens for disorderly conduct. In in New York City, where it’s technically allowed, police officers have needed reminders that they cannot arrest women simply for going shirtless in locations where it would be permissible for men to do the same, the New York Times reports. “Simply exposing their breasts in public,” police were warned in 2013, doesn’t amount to a crime.

TIME States

Indiana Politicians Want to Drug Test People on Welfare

A similar measure failed to gain legislative approval last year

Lawmakers in Indiana are weighing a measure that would require some welfare recipients to undergo drug testing and risk losing their benefits if they failed.

Democratic State Rep. Terry Goodin proposed the drug testing requirement as an amendment to a bill currently before Indiana’s House, based on his concerns over intravenous drug use causing a spike in HIV cases. The Republican-majority House voted 79-15 on Tuesday to approve Goodin’s amendment to the bill, which will be considered in a final vote Wednesday.

The proposed change would require welfare recipients considered high-risk for drug abuse to be tested, as well as those who had previously been charged with a drug-related crime.

If recipients failed a drug test, they’d receive counseling that they would have to pay for themselves. If they repeatedly failed the tests, they’d be taken off welfare for at least three months. They would also be responsible for the cost of any positive drug tests.

Republicans pushed a similar proposal in 2014 but it failed to pass in the Senate. Civil liberties organizations have criticized measures like this in the past.

[The Indianapolis Star]

TIME Law

Pizza Shop That Backed Indiana Religious Freedom Law Reopens

Many customers wait for service as Memories Pizza reopened for business ON April, 9, 2015, in Walkerton, Ind.
Tom Coyne–AP Many customers wait for service as Memories Pizza reopened for business ON April, 9, 2015, in Walkerton, Ind.

Shop closed after owner said his religious beliefs wouldn't allow him to cater a gay wedding

(WALKERTON, Ind.) — A northern Indiana pizzeria that closed after its owner said his religious beliefs wouldn’t allow him to cater a gay wedding opened Thursday to a full house of friends, regulars and people wanting to show their support.

“It’s a relief to get going again and try to get back to normal,” said Kevin O’Connor, owner of Memories Pizza.

O’Connor closed the shop for eight days after comments by him and his daughter, Crystal, to a local television station supporting a new religious objections law. The law, which has since been revised, sparked a boycott of Indiana.

O’Connor said the criticism hasn’t changed his beliefs. He said gays are welcome in his restaurant in the small, one-traffic-light town of Walkerton, 20 miles southwest of South Bend, but that he would decline to cater a same-sex wedding because it would conflict with his Christian beliefs.

“I’d do the same thing again. It’s my belief. It’s our belief. It’s what we grew up on,” he said. “I’m just sorry it comes to this because neither one of us dislike any of those people. I don’t hold any grudges.”

A crowdfunding campaign started by supporters raised more than $842,000 with donations from 29,160 contributors in 48 hours. O’Connor said he hasn’t received the money yet, but said he plans to give some to charity and use some money to make improvements to the restaurant.

The 61-year-old father of eight who has owned the restaurant for nine years said he never thought about taking the money and retiring.

“I enjoy it. I don’t want to leave here,” he said. “I want this to be something that my daughter can enjoy.”

Crystal O’Connor said the amount of money was overwhelming.

“We were like, ‘Stop! Stop! Stop!'” she said.

“It was really making us uncomfortable,” her father said.

The restaurant reopened about 4 p.m. Thursday. He says that within an hour, all eight tables were filled and six people were waiting for carryout orders. There were no protests as of 7 p.m.

Jeanne and Ken Gumm from outside LaPorte, about 20 miles northwest of Walkerton, said they had been waiting for the pizzeria to reopen so they could show their support.

“We couldn’t wait to get down here,” said Ken Gumm, 66, a tank truck driver. “To us this whole thing isn’t about gay marriage. It’s mostly about freedom of religion.”

Read next: Why Religious Freedom Bills Could Be Great for Gay Rights

TIME Crime

South Carolina Officer Faces Murder Charge After Video Shows Man’s Shooting Death

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott called the death of Walter Scott “senseless"

A white police officer in South Carolina was charged with murder Tuesday after a grisly video emerged showing him repeatedly shoot an apparently unarmed black man who was running away, sparking an outraged reaction from local residents, advocates and officials, and a promise that the local police department supply officers with body cameras.

In the April 4 footage captured by a bystander, and posted below, North Charleston police officer Michael Thomas Slager, 33 is seen firing eight shots at a man identified by authorities as Walter Scott, 50. The officer claimed he feared for his life after Scott took his stun gun during a confrontation following a traffic stop over a broken taillight, according to police documents cited by the New York Times.

Slager was booked on the murder charge Tuesday by the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, shortly after the video emerged, and he was fired.

“When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” Mayor Keith Summey said of the decision to charge the officer, in an early evening news conference, The Post and Courier reports. “When you make a bad decision, don’t care if you’re behind the shield or a citizen on the street, you have to live with that decision.”

On Wednesday, Summey announced that he had a grant to purchase 101 body cameras for the city’s police force but that he had decided to purchase additional cameras as well.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is investigating the shooting, as will the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a spokeswoman for the Justice Department.

On Wednesday morning, protesters raising signs and wearing “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts flocked to the North Charleston’s City Hall to slam what they saw as violence in law enforcement, in an echo of similar protests following the police shooting deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in New York City.

The graphic video footage of Scott’s death, originally reported by The Post and Courier and the Times, also prompted a strong reaction from South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who called it “senseless” on Twitter and said Scott’s death was “absolutely unnecessary and avoidable.” He added that he will be “watching this case closely.”

MORE: South Carolina Police Shooting Renews Calls for Body Cameras

At the beginning of the video showing the shooting, Scott can be seen running from Slager, who rapidly fires seven shots. Following a slight pause, the officer fires an eighth, after which Scott falls to the ground. The officer is then heard yelling, “Put your hands behind your back!” before handcuffing Scott, who is lying face-down on the ground.

The officer is then shown running several yards away and appears to bend down and lift an object from the ground as another officer arrives on the scene. The second officer then requests that “someone grab [him] a kit” over his radio as he approaches Scott. When the first officer returns to Scott shortly afterward, he appears to drop an object—suspected to be the stun gun—next to Scott’s body.

The second officer can be heard reporting Scott’s injury while kneeling and examining his back as the officer, appearing to be Slager, observes. An additional clip, which the Times labeled as having “captured the scene moments later,” shows two officers applying gauze to Scott’s back while two more officers talk behind them.

Slager was previously accused of excessive force in a 2013 encounter where he also used a stun gun, but he was cleared in that case, NBC reports. He joined the police force five years ago, after serving in the Coast Guard, according to the Times. Information about his lawyer was not immediately available.

Scott may have been fleeing police because he knew he owed child support for his four kids, his lawyer L. Chris Stewart told the Times. Scott had been arrested about 10 times, mostly for failing to pay child support, but he also had an assault charge from 1987, The Post and Courier reports

Scott’s brother, Anthony Scott, told reporters in a televised news conference Tuesday evening that he’s hoping for “justice.”

“From the beginning, when it happened the first day, all we wanted was the truth,” he said. “We can’t get my brother back and my family is in deep mourning of that, but through the process justice has been served.”

Anthony Scott added he doesn’t consider Slager a representation of law enforcement officers. “I don’t think that all police officers are bad cops,” he said. “But there are some bad ones out there and I don’t want to see anyone get shot down the way that my brother got shot down.”

MORE: How Body Cams on Cops Brought a Murder Charge in New Mexico

Stewart, the family’s lawyer, praised the bystander who captured the deadly incident on video and came forward with the footage.

“What happened today doesn’t happen all the time,” Stewart said. “What if there was no video? What if there was no witness—or hero as I call him—to come forward?” he added, as a woman next to him wept. “Then this wouldn’t have happened.”

Justin Bamberg, another family attorney, called it “an example of what can happen when people are willing to step up and do the right thing for the right reasons.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also noted the importance of video evidence in the case, adding that the Obama administration has issued a community policing grant for $75 million to help agencies implement policies related to body cameras.

“I do think that it is an example of how body cameras worn by police officers could have a positive impact in terms of building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Earnest said.

“I don’t think that anyone thinks that this this is a panacea—it certainly isn’t—but it certainly, at least in this situation, is an indication of how it can help.”

With reporting by Maya Rhodan and Justin Worland

TIME States

Colorado Says Baker Didn’t Discriminate in Refusing to Make Anti-Gay Cake

Bakery owner Marjorie Silva, who refused to write hateful words about gays on a cake for a customer, stands inside her own Azucar Bakery, in Denver, on Jan. 20, 2015.
Ivan Moreno—AP Bakery owner Marjorie Silva, who refused to write hateful words about gays on a cake for a customer, stands inside her own Azucar Bakery, in Denver, on Jan. 20, 2015.

Colorado Civil Rights Division said she was within legal rights to deny cake orders featuring "derogatory language and imagery"

A Colorado government agency has ruled that a baker who refused to make cakes featuring anti-gay messages did not discriminate against the man who requested them.

Last year, William Jack asked Denver’s Azucar Bakery for two bible-shaped cakes featuring images of groomsmen crossed out with a red “X” and phrases like “Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18.2,” local ABC station NEWS7 Denver reports. The bakery’s owner, Marjorie Silva, told Jack she would make the bible-shaped cakes and provide icing for him to add his own message, but she wouldn’t apply such “hateful and offensive” messages because her bakery “does not discriminate.”

Jack complained to the Colorado Civil Rights Division, accusing Silva of denying him goods or services based on his religion. But the agency recently ruled that Silva’s refusal to make the cakes was motivated by the “derogatory language and imagery,” and not because of religious discrimination. “In the same manner [she] would not accept [an order from] anyone wanting to make a discriminatory cake against Christians, [she] will not make one that discriminates against gays,” the ruling stated. Last year, the agency ruled that another bakery in the state could not refuse a gay couple’s request for a wedding cake.

Silva, who is Catholic and whose bakery in the past has made cakes for Christian holidays that featured religious imagery, said she was pleased to learn she was “not [only] morally right but also legally right.”

Jack told 7NEWS that he plans to appeal the decision. “I find it offensive that the Colorado Civil Rights Division considers the baker’s claims that Bible verses were discriminatory as the reason for denying my claim,” he said.

[ABC 7NEWS]

TIME Environment

California Governor Defends Water Restrictions That Largely Spare Farms

California Drought Reveals Uneven Water Usage
Sandy Huffaker—Getty Images Aerial view overlooking landscaping on April 4, 2015 in Ramona, Calif.

"I can tell you from California, climate change is not a hoax"

Governor Jerry Brown defended his state’s new mandatory water restrictions on Sunday as critics claim they largely spare some farms that consume much of California’s water.

The state’s farms account for 80% of its water consumption but only 2% of its economy, according to the think tank Public Policy Institute of California. But Brown asserted in an ABC News interview taking water away from farmers could create a number of problems, including displacing hundreds of thousands of people and cutting off a region that provides a significant fraction of the country’s food supply.

“They’re not watering their lawn or taking long showers,” he said. “They’re providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America and a significant part of the world.”

At the end of the interview, the Democratic governor reiterated a broad warning after four years of drought. “I can tell you from California, climate change is not a hoax,” he said. “We’re dealing with it, and it’s damn serious.”

[ABC News]

Read next: California’s Water Crisis by the Numbers

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME States

Arnold Schwarzenegger ‘Furious’ About Indiana Law

Arnold Schwarzenegger Attends The Queensland Real Estate Agents' Summit
Tara Croser—Newspix/Getty Images Arnold Schwarzenegger attends the Queensland Real Estate Agents' Summit 2015 at RNA Convention Centre on March 17, 2015 in Brisbane, Australia.

The former California governor says the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is bad for the GOP

Arnold Schwarzenegger says the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which sparked outrage from critics concerned it could lead to discrimination against LGBT people in Indiana, is a “distracting, divisive law” that is “bad for the country” and bad for his Republican Party.

The former California governor wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post arguing that American politicians (and Republicans in particular) should be focusing on solutions to real problems that affect Americans’ health and wallets, like pollution and traffic. To attract and retain young voters, he writes, “We must be the party of limited government, not the party that legislates love.”

Read more at the Washington Post.

TIME States

New Kansas Law Will Allow Concealed Carry Without Gun Permit or Training

“It is a constitutional right, and we’re removing a barrier to that right"

A bill signed Thursday by Gov. Sam Brownback will allow residents in Kansas to carry concealed firearms without a permit or training.

Kansans aged 21 or older will be permitted to carry concealed guns starting July 1 when the law takes effect, even if they’re not trained or don’t have a permit, the Kansas City Star reports. That will make the state one of six to allow “constitutional carry.”

Anyone who would like to carry a concealed gun in any of the three dozen states that accept Kansas permits must go through training, a requirement that Brownback emphasized. But even with regard to Kansans, who won’t be required to go through training, he acknowledged that his youngest son had “got a lot out of” a hunter safety course recently and urged others “to take advantage of that.”

“We’re saying that if you want to do that in this state, then you don’t have to get the permission slip from the government,” Brownback said. “It is a constitutional right, and we’re removing a barrier to that right.”

The Kansas State Rifle Association was supportive of the bill. A statement on its website reads: “the right to keep and bear arms is a natural, unalienable right protected by the Second Amendment and citizens should not have to go through burdensome and expensive hoops to exercise that right.”

[Kansas City Star]

TIME

Why Religious Freedom Bills Could Be Great for Gay Rights

Demonstrators gather to protest a controversial religious freedom bill recently signed by Governor Mike Pence, during a rally at Monument Circle in Indianapolis on March 28, 2015.
Nate Chute—Reuters Demonstrators gather to protest a controversial religious freedom bill recently signed by Governor Mike Pence, during a rally at Monument Circle in Indianapolis on March 28, 2015.

"Anyone involved in social change has often had to take something that looked pretty bleak and turn it into an opportunity"

Opponents of the religious freedom laws recently passed in Arkansas and Indiana criticized the measures as a license to discriminate against LGBT people, but the battle over the bills may come to benefit the very people who led the charge against them.

Suddenly, a community that has been unsuccessfully championing LGBT non-discrimination measures for decades has the nation’s attention. A civil rights movement needs an outraged public to enact reform, and this fight —from grassroots protests against the bills to disapproving tweets from Walmart executives—generated plenty of it. Gay rights advocates strategically used the showdown as a megaphone to decry the absence of discrimination protections for LGBT people in many states. While nearly 90% of people believe that it’s already illegal to discriminate against gay and transgender people, there are no such laws in the majority of the United States.

On Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence approved changes to the state’s newly passed religious freedom law that make it clear the measure can’t be used to discriminate, but his opponents are taking this opportunity to push for more—demanding that Indiana become not just the 20th state to pass a religious freedom act but also the 20th to pass comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBT residents.

“Anyone involved in social change has often had to take something that looked pretty bleak and turn it into an opportunity,” says Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). “And you better believe that everyone who believes in justice is going to keep making a way out of no way. And this is another one of those moments. Let’s let people know what the stakes really are.”

This silver lining may have already sparked change in Florida, where gay rights advocates have long been pushing a non-discrimination bill that would protect LGBT people in the realms of employment, housing and public accommodations. For nearly a decade, the bill has been filed each year without coming up for a vote, says Carlos Guillermo Smith of Equality Florida. His group has built a coalition of more than 300 businesses who support the measure—including prominent companies like Walt Disney World and the Miami Heat—but that hasn’t moved the needle. Now, in the wake of Indiana, Smith says it looks like the bill may finally get taken up by a committee next week.

“It’ll be the first hearing we have had on the issue, ever,” says Smith.

In Pennsylvania, advocates preparing to introduce a non-discrimination measure in the next two weeks have used the fallout in Indiana to highlight the potential economic costs to Republican lawmakers. Companies have halted expansion in the Hoosier State, lucrative conferences have threatened to convene elsewhere and recruiters tasked with luring executives to the area are worried about companies already there choosing to relocate.

“It’s the severity of the backlash,” says Equality Pennsylvania’s Ted Martin, “that really and truly serves as an example that discrimination is just not the way to move a state forward economically. I think the leadership in our capitol will pay attention to that.”

This is already the tack that many LGBT advocates have been taking, concentrating on the dollars-and-cents arguments instead of just acceptance-and-tolerance. In Florida, the non-discrimination bill is pointedly named the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, positioned as a way to attract the broadest range of the best talent. What’s happening in Indiana, Smith says, “is making the argument for us.”

Some worry that support for non-discrimination measures will be hard to drum up, partly because the realm of marriage equality has been a double-edged sword for LGBT Americans. As the Supreme Court appears poised to make same-sex marriage the law of the land, advocates are ready to celebrate securing a right with enormous emotional and practical importance. At the same time, says Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, “The concern has always been that we might make the mistakes of every other civil rights or human rights struggle. Women win the right to vote and mistake that for full equality. Brown v. Board of Education rules that segregation is unlawful, and there’s a mistaken notion that somehow we’ve won the war on racism and bigotry.”

The fear, she says, is that casual supporters of gay rights would get the impression that the work is finished, brush off their hands, put away their pocketbooks and go home. “The notion that we’re done is something that we’re fighting,” Kendell told TIME in 2014. The fight in Indiana has made it clear that the war is not over. It has also demonstrated to the likes of Kendell that they have wells of support that are bigger than they realized, as everyone from the NCAA to Angie’s List balked at the law. “We have seen a cascade of support for basic, fair treatment for LGBT people in the public square that I could never have imagined,” Kendell says. “I want to bottle this lightning.”

While the national conversation has focused on the theoretical same-sex couple seeking a hypothetical cake from a traditionalist baker, Sarah McBride of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, says that the controversy has been an opportunity to point out that the LGBT discrimination is not only real but that the vast majority is more “life-altering” than having to seek out a second pastry shop. “The economic numbers don’t lie,” she says, noting that LGBT Americans experience higher levels of poverty, homelessness and unemployment than the general population. A report she authored in 2014 found that 27% of LGBT people have experienced “inappropriate treatment” or hostility in a place of public accommodation like a shop or restaurant.

McBride says that another difficulty that comes along with wins for marriage equality is that there are more opportunities for discrimination. Heartened by court rulings, people are more willing to come out of the closet and may even be forced to effectively out themselves at work when, for the first time, they’re filling out paperwork to add a same-sex spouse to their health insurance policy. Those are opportunities to encounter backlash that didn’t exist before, she says. A favorite rhetorical example among such advocates is that in several states, a lesbian could now be married on Sunday and fired for being gay on Monday, left with only patchy and confusing legal recourse. “The confusion around the legal landscape needs to be clarified,” McBride says. “That’s why there needs to be a comprehensive federal response.”

Members of Congress have tried and failed to pass non-discrimination legislation that would protect LGBT people in employment nearly every session since 1994. In a “historic” 2013 vote, the Democrat-controlled Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. Then the Republican-controlled House didn’t take it up. Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, said in late 2014 that rather than fight the same fight again, he plans to go bigger: introducing sweeping legislation that covers not only employment but housing and public accommodations. And the controversy over religious freedom restoration bills—which are still pending in six states beyond Indiana—may help jump start a measure that has stalled so many times. It will need a jolt for a GOP-controlled Congress to consider taking it up.

“Senator Merkley’s hope is that with the news out of Indiana and Arkansas we can finally get the support we need to get LGBT Americans the rights they deserve,” a spokesperson for Merkley tells TIME.

In some ways, fighting for marriage equality is an easier task for gay rights supporters than fighting for LGBT non-discrimination bills. Part of it is Americans’ widespread belief that those protections are already in place and confusion about what legal options LGBT people have if they’re fired from a job for being gay or transgender, while it has always been obvious and indisputable where same-sex marriage was not legal and what that meant. A lack of marriage rights is a straightforward issue, while discrimination isn’t always easy for outsiders to see, says Jenny Pizer of Lambda Legal. “Non-discrimination is proactive and not reactive,” Pizer says. “That is a different kind of social change process.”

But the religious freedom bills, which have been considered in more than a dozen states so far in 2015, could change that. McBride says such incendiary proposals may prove the “tangible” means of activating support for their cause, just like constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage provided them a target at which to aim when fighting for marriage equality.

People like Smith will be watching closely to see whether backlash against the new religious freedom law is indeed enough to boomerang the state legislature beyond fixes to passing stand-alone non-discrimination legislation. That would be a telling lesson in a state run by a politician who once declared that he opposes “any effort to recognize homosexual’s [sic] as a discreet [sic] and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.”

“Their version of our bill is still in the works,” Smith says. “If we can’t even get that in Indiana, then I don’t know if we’ll be able to get it in Florida.” But if Smith’s team does get their hearing next week, you can count on them pointing a lot of fingers in a northwesterly direction.

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