TIME cities

Beverly Hills Joins Celebrities in Condemning Brunei’s Anti-Gay Laws

The city council joined Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres in calling for the boycott of the iconic Beverly Hills hotel owned by the anti-gay sultanate of Brunei

The Beverly Hills council has joined Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres in condemning the government of Southeast Asian sultanate Brunei, which owns the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel and has passed new laws targeting gays and woman.

Brunei’s leader Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah introduced harsh anti-gay penalties last week that will eventually include death by stoning for homosexuality and adultery. The government owns the Beverly Hills hotel, which has seen the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Tom Cruise and Ozzy Osbourne and is a celebrated part of Los Angeles life.

The Beverly Hills City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night urging the government of Brunei to divest itself of the Beverly Hills Hotel and other properties in the area, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The council was divided, however, on whether to boycott the hotel, the BBC reports, which employs 600 people, and pays about $7 million in bed taxes and $4 million in city taxes annually.

“They won’t stop the implementation of the new laws,” Christopher Cowdray, the hotel group’s chief executive said of the boycotts and protest but rather would “only hurt the [hotel’s] employees.” Cowdray added that Brunei had no plans to sell the hotels.

[L.A. Times]

TIME

Oregon Governor Performs Emergency CPR on Woman

Gov. John Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, spotted a woman in need of help from his car Monday evening and stopped to assist

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber performed emergency CPR on an unconscious woman in downtown Portland Monday.

The governor’s spokesperson Nkenge Harmon Johnson said the woman had “apparently overdosed” of heroin, CNN reports.

Kitzhaber saw the woman was in need of help when he was being driven to dinner Monday evening, and directed his driver to stop the car so he could assist her until emergency responders arrived on the scene.

Kitzhaber, a Democrat, is a former emergency room doctor and is running for a historic fourth term as Oregon’s governor.

Monday’s incident was not the first time Kitzhaber used his medical training on the campaign trail. Kitzhaber assisted a man who had a heart seizure during a 2010 gubernatorial debate.

[CNN]

TIME Environment

States Are Cracking Down on Face Wash

Vials of microbeads alongside products that use such small, plastic spheres.
Vials of microbeads alongside products that use such small, plastic spheres. Photo courtesy of 5 Gyres

Environmentalists are sounding alarms about microbeads, the tiny bits of plastic used in personal care products that researchers say are too small to be filtered out of water treatment plants, so they're ending up in oceans and lakes

If you’ve ever cleansed your face with a product that promised to gently exfoliate your T-zone, you may have been enjoying the effects of the latest scourge of environmentalists: microbeads.

Microbeads are tiny, round bits of plastic that are found in, among other things, personal care products made by companies like Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble. They’re so small that one will just cover Abraham Lincoln’s eye on a penny. More important, researchers have found that they’re too small to be sifted out at water treatments plants, so the tiny beads are flowing down bathroom sinks and ending up in America’s lakes and oceans. Though the effects of their presence are still being investigated, five states—California, New York, Illinois, Ohio and Minnesota—are considering bills that would proactively ban their use.

“The fundamental question is going to be: do we wait to take this material out until we prove that this microbead causes harm?” says Chelsea Rochman, a marine ecologist at the University of California, Davis, who specializes in microplastics research.

According to industry experts, microbeads started becoming popular with big companies about a decade ago as replacements for harsher scrubbing ingredients like pumice. Given how relatively new they are, there is little research specifically investigating how microbeads affect the environment. Still, Rochman says, there is plenty of evidence from research on other plastics suggesting that they’re probably causing more harm than good. In oceans and lakes, she says, bits of plastic “act like sponges,” soaking up toxins like pesticides and flame retardants that have also found their way into the ecosystem. And hundreds of species, from fish to plankton to wild-caught tuna, ingest bits of plastic, meaning those toxins could be ending up in the food chain.

Jay Ansell, a toxicologist with the trade association that represents personal care product companies, emphasizes that beyond the lack of research, there also isn’t hard proof that the beads researchers have found came from facial scrubs rather than paint or sand-blasting. Still, that hasn’t stopped many of the big companies represented by the Personal Care Products Council from taking steps away from the beads. Johnson & Johnson, which produces product lines like Clean & Clear and Neutrogena, has already announced that they’re not using microbeads in any new products and are reformulating all those that currently use them, with plans to eliminate their use entirely by 2017. Proctor & Gamble, maker of brands such as Olay, has made similar public vows.

“As an industry there was a feeling that this is certainly something we can do and we can do it today,” Ansell says of eliminating microbeads. “This is something we can live without.”

So why all the legislation, if companies aren’t pushing back? “This is a game of Whack-a-Mole,” says Stiv Wilson, policy director at 5 Gyres, an organization that studies plastic in the world’s watersheds. His group drafted the legislation that has served as a model in all the states that are currently considering bans. He says that laws are needed to keep big companies, however good-willed, beholden to certain timelines and to make sure smaller companies that might use microbeads don’t slip through the cracks. He believes that advocates only need two bills to become laws in U.S. states before it creates a “distribution nightmare” that will force companies’ hands.

Both Illinois and New York look poised to pass their bills. The Illinois measure has passed the Senate and moved on to the state House. In New York, companion bills have been introduced in both chambers, and the attorney general’s office is pushing their passage. Wilson says he’s confident that California could pass their bill too, though he’s less confident about the political circumstances in Minnesota and Ohio.

“It’s really important that these bills become law,” Wilson says. “There’s a history of companies saying they’re going to do something and then putting it off until forgotten … You’ve got to get some teeth behind these promises.” Though companies have not yet said what materials they might use as replacements, advocates have suggested natural products such as crushed walnuts and apricot shells.

An advocacy group operating under the banner “Beat the Micro Bead” is pushing similar reform in Europe. If you’re curious about whether a certain cosmetic contains microbeads, you can view their product lists here. In addition to face wash, Rochman says microbeads are also used in goods like toothpaste, toilet bowl cleaners and other cleaning products.

“This is a solvable problem,” says Wilson. “There’s plenty of places in the market that have demonstrated that you can get the same effect with other materials.” Whatever substitutes the companies end up using, expect more of them to be biodegradable.

TIME States

Native American Fishing Activist Billy Frank Jr. Dead at 83

Billy Frank Jr.
Billy Frank Jr. poses for a photo near Frank's Landing on the Nisqually River in Nisqually, Wash. Ted S. Warren—AP

Renowned campaigner who fought to secure fishing rights for Native American tribes in the Northwest and led civil-disobedience campaigns during the Fish Wars of the 1960s and '70s passed away Monday at age 83

After fighting for decades to persevere the fishing rights of Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest, activist Billy Frank Jr. died this week. He was 83 years old.

“Billy dedicated his life to protecting our traditional way of life and our salmon. For more than 60 years,” read a statement by the Nisqually tribe Monday.

“Billy was in the center of action on behalf of the Nisqually people and of Native Americans throughout our country.”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee remarked that the state had “lost a true legend.”

“Billy was a champion of tribal rights, of the salmon, and the environment,” Inslee wrote online. “He did that even when it meant putting himself in physical danger or facing jail.”

After being arrested in 1945 at the age of 14 while trying to catch salmon, Frank would go on to be taken into custody more than 50 times over the course of his life for illegally fishing in waters his ancestors had relied on for centuries.

“We ceded all this land to the United States for a contract to protect our salmon, our way of life, our culture,” Frank told the Associated Press during an interview in 2012.

“We’re gatherers and we’re harvesters. And they forgot about us. They built their cities, they built their university. They built everything, and they forgot about us tribes.”

Frank’s resistance to state-imposed limits on fishing led to a historic civil rights struggle, known as the Fish Wars, from the dozens of Northwest tribes who demanded that the treaties their ancestors first signed with white settlers be honored and their way of life persevered.

The movement was vindicated in the mid-1970s when a district court declared that 20 tribes in the Pacific Northwest were privy to half of the region’s annual fish harvest.

TIME States

Gay-Marriage Advocates Eye Conservative Oklahoma for Latest Push

There's no question about same-sex marriage on the ballot in Oklahoma, but advocates are still targeting it for their latest push, just as a federal appeals court considers a challenge to the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions

For all the strides same-sex marriage advocates have made in recent years, a deep-red state with nothing on the ballot about the issue this year seems at first glance like an odd target for activists to set in their sights. But that’s exactly what they’re doing in Oklahoma.

A pro-gay-marriage group deployed a statewide advertising campaign in Oklahoma on Monday. Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, a group helping to fund the campaign, said the absence of urgent public debate makes this the perfect time to reignite a conversation in Oklahoma that can be very emotionally charged, on both sides.

“What we want to do is take this out of the political back and forth and just have a heart to heart conversation at a time when people have a chance to just take a deep breath and think it through,” Wolfson told TIME. “They’re being asked to open their hearts and think about real people and real values, such as the golden rule, and think about who gay people are in Oklahoma.”

The ad tells the story of the Cuyler family and their ranch near Fort Sill in rural, southwestern Oklahoma. At the ranch, decorated Vietnam veteran Ed Cuyler and his wife Robbie live with their daughter Deedra, her partner, Amber, and their three kids. Deedra and Amber were married in Massachusetts in 2011, but their marriage isn’t recognized in Oklahoma due to the state’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriages.

With its rural aesthetic and the appeal to family values, the ad is designed for a wide swath of the state’s population, including people outside of the urban centers of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, a demographic not generally assumed to be sympathetic to arguments in favor of same-sex marriage.

“We’d talk to legislators who would say, ‘There’s no gay people in my district,’” said Troy Stevenson of the Freedom Oklahoma coalition, which produced the ad with Freedom to Marry. “Well we know that’s not true.”

Stevenson met the Cuyler family in February during his group’s annual lobbying day at the state capital. Deedra and Amber came with their twins. Stevenson said after learning more about the family—with the kids, the ranch, and the father’s personal journey toward accepting his daughter’s family—he knew he’d found a couple for a TV spot.

The ad comes as 10th Circuit Court Appeals is expected to rule within weeks on a challenge to Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban, which was overturned by a federal judge in Tulsa in a landmark ruling last January. In recent months Freedom to Marry has also run similar ads in Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, where a legal challenge to that state’s same-sex marriage ban is also being weighed by the 10thCircuit. The ads are part of Freedom to Marry’s national effort to cultivate support throughout the country for same-sex marriage in advance of the next time the Supreme Court takes up the issue, with the hope the court will find public opinion has shifted and Americans are ready for a sweeping decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

The conventional wisdom says proponents of same-sex marriage face a steep uphill battle in Oklahoma. The Atlantic used aggregated polling data from the region in 2012 to find that 35 percent of Oklahomans support same-sex marriage, but reliable, up-to-date polling on the question doesn’t appear to exist. Freedom Oklahoma intends change that with a statewide poll after the ad run, with the goal of having data to sort through within the month.

“It’s been an uphill battle all over the country,” Stevenson said. “Here in Oklahoma there’s a perception it’s going to be much harder. In talking to Oklahomans every day. I think there’s a lot more support than people understand.”

TIME

States That are Cheating Death

Where you live can help determine how long you'll live.

+ READ ARTICLE

The only sure things in life are death and taxes, and now your home state might control both of them. A report in the Center for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report this week analyzed premature deaths from the five leading causes – heart disease, cancer, lower respiratory illnesses, stroke and unintentional injuries – by state and found that 40% of them were preventable.

The fact that we can do better in avoiding early death isn’t news, given that we’re fond of some unhealthy habits, including smoking, eating lots of fat, sugar and salt and not exercising enough, but what’s surprising is that where you live plays such a large role in determining how likely you are to die early from a preventable cause. Living in states in the southeast, for example, can increase your chances of dying prematurely from each of the five leading causes than living in certain western states. Different regional lifestyles certainly play a part, but the availability of health-related programs such as screening for cancer and blood pressure, and safe places to exercise, can also help to bring preventable death rates down. Living healthy is half the battle in avoiding an early death, and living in the right state can be the other.

TIME States

Florida Inches Closer to Passing Immigrant In-State Tuition Bill

Florida senators voted in favor of a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to qualify for the same in-state tuition rate at public universities that U.S. citizens do. Representatives are due to approve several minor changes before Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign it into law

Florida is on track to be the latest state to offer the children of undocumented immigrants residential rates on tuition at public universities, after a bill cleared the senate on Thursday.

Following a highly charged debate on the floor where lawmakers quoted the likes of Langston Hughes and Aristotle, Florida senators voted 26-13 in favor of the legislation, according to the Associated Press. If the bill is signed into law, Florida would be the 20th state in the Union to offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.

Governor Rick Scott called the passage of the bill through the senate “historic.”

“It’s an exciting day for every student that dreams of a college education,” he said at an impromptu press conference. “Children who grow up in this state now get the same tuition as their peers.”

Scott is up for re-election at the end of the year but currently lags 10 points behind his Democratic opponent and former governor Charlie Crist, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday. Analysts say he is attempting to curry favor with the state’s large Latino population.

And more than a dozen fellow Republicans were less than enthused about potentially losing out on an estimated $50 million if the bill is implemented.

“I know it feels good giving benefits away,” said Republican Senator Aaron Bean. “We are giving so many benefits to noncitizens … Does it matter even being an American citizen anymore?”

The bill is now headed back to the house, where representatives will vote to approve the minor changes in the senate before it is sent to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

If approved, undocumented students would pay the same tuition rates as residents if they have attended a Florida school for at least three years prior to graduating from high school.

[AP]

TIME States

Mass.gov Apologizes for Tweeting ‘Sexual Assault Is Always Avoidable’

The tweet, which came at the end of Sexual Assault Awareness month, said that "sexual assault is always avoidable." Many accused @MassGov of victim blaming, but a state government official said there was "no malicious intent behind the tweet"

Massachusetts officials apologized Thursday for an offensive tweet about sexual assault sent from the government Twitter account.

“Sexual assault is always avoidable,” the Wednesday night tweet from @MassGov read, according to ABC. Many accused @MassGov of victim blaming. “The only person to blame for rape is the rapist,” one woman wrote on Twitter.

The tweet was later deleted.

On Thursday, the twitter account posted a series of tweets apologizing:

The Mass.gov director Geoffrey Kula issued a statement Thursday explaining how exactly the tweet went out and what action would be taken against the tweeter:

In this instance, the author of the sexual assault awareness tweet did not send this tweet to the editorial gatekeeper for review, and instead scheduled the tweet independently. Having spoken with the author this morning, it is clear there was no malicious intent behind the tweet; the tweet inaccurately summarized the content in the linked-to blog post, which discussed services available for victims of sexual assault. The tweet author agrees that perpetrators of sexual assault are always at fault, and it was never the author’s intent to blame victims for crimes perpetrated. The author has agreed to participate in sexual assault awareness training.

The incident comes at the end of Sexual Assault Awareness month and just when the Obama administration is doubling down on efforts to prevent sexual assault on campus. Today, the Department of Education released the names of 55 colleges facing Title IX sexual assault investigations.

TIME States

Gas Explosion at Pensacola Jail Kills 2, Injures More Than 100

A gas explosion ripped through a Florida correctional facility after severe rains deluged the southeast, killing two and injuring more than 100 inmates and staff. More than 400 other inmates were transferred to jails in neighboring counties

A gas explosion at a Pensacola jail killed at least two and injured more than 100 inmates and correctional staff Wednesday night — one day after historic floodwaters devoured roads and ruined homes across the panhandle.

The explosion reportedly erupted at about 11 p.m. local time near the facility’s book center, causing part of the structure to collapse, according to the Associated Press. There’s no word if the accident was caused by the week’s heavy storms, which did flood portions of the jail.

The injured were taken to hospitals and more than 400 uninjured inmates were transferred to jails in neighboring counties.

On Wednesday, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 26 counties and called on state and local agencies to respond rapidly to the needs of affected families.

“We’re continuing to work with local leaders on the ground to give them the support they need to keep families safe and get them back on their feet,” he said in a statement.

“To support our local leaders, early this morning I instructed the National Guard to deploy 24 high-water vehicles to the impacted counties to assist with rescue and recovery operations.”

At least one woman in Pensacola, Florida, died after her car was swept into a drainage ditch, according to authorities.

On Tuesday night, more than 15 in. of rain fell before midnight at Pensacola Airport — setting a new record for the rainiest single day in the area.

“We’ve seen flooding before, but never flooding that washes the back of a house away,” said CNN iReporter Matt Raybourn of Pensacola. “There are no words for what we are seeing here.”

Elsewhere in Escambia County, local officials responded to 281 emergencies while fire rescue teams answered more than 266 pleas for help on Wednesday. According to the county’s official website, the local 911 dispatch received more than 4,000 calls between the start of the emergency at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The behemoth three-day storm system cut through large swaths of the Great Plains and South as tornadoes, hail and floods left more than 30 people dead.

TIME Drugs

Rocky Mountain High: Colorado Symphony Unrolls ‘Classical Cannabis’ Series

Denver Marijuana Celebration
Partygoers dance and smoke pot on the first of two days at the annual 4/20 marijuana festival in Denver on April 19, 2014 Brennan Linsley—AP

In a bid to attract a new and younger listenership, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is staging special summer concerts at which the audience will be encouraged to roll up and toke on the state’s now legal marijuana

In a bid to attract a new and younger listenership, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is staging a summer classical-music series in Denver at which the audience will be encouraged to toke up on the state’s now legal weed while enjoying the orchestra’s beautiful repertoire.

Billed as “Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series,” the program is being sponsored by a number of companies hailing from the state’s burgeoning, four-month-old marijuana industry.

Organizers point out, however, that pot will not be sold at the shows, which are strictly Bring Your Own Cannabis.

Promoters are hoping the BYOC events will give a financial boost to an orchestra that has been long plagued by financial setbacks.

“Part of our goal is to bring in a younger audience and a more diverse audience, and I would suggest that the patrons of the cannabis industry are both younger and more diverse than the patrons of the symphony orchestra,” CSO executive director Jerry Kern told the Denver Post.

However, some classical-music fans are not quite as convinced that bud and Beethoven make appropriate bedfellows.

“I know that the symphony needs new sponsors, and they are trying to go after a younger group,” local-event organizer Judith Inman told the Associated Press. “I just don’t think this is the way to go about it.”

Maybe not. But then again, marijuana has often been used to make very long, complex pieces of music more palatable. Just ask any Grateful Dead fan.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser