TIME States

Alaska to Put Free Pregnancy Tests in Bar Restrooms

The program will help combat the state's high rate of fetal alcohol syndrome

The University of Alaska is leading a state-funded program to put free pregnancy tests in the bathrooms of 20 bars and restaurants across the state starting this December.

The two-year, $400,000 program is designed to combat Alaska’s rate of fetal alcohol syndrome, which is the highest of any state in the country, the Anchorage Daily News reports. Women of child-bearing age in Alaska are 20 percent more likely to binge drink in comparison to the national average.

“This is not a strategy for the chronic alcoholic who is drinking regardless of whatever message they see,” said Jody Allen Crowe, who founded a Minnesota organization that leads a similar program and is helping with the project. “This is really focused on the 50 percent of unexpected pregnancies, to find out they are pregnant as early as possible.”

Republican Senator Pete Kelly, who has said before that birth control is for women who “who don’t want to act responsibly,” first proposed the program.

[Anchorage Daily News]

TIME republicans

Here’s a Video Mashup of Rick Perry Talking About Gays

The Texas governor’s comparison of homosexuality with alcoholism was far from his first controversial comment about gays. Not even close.

The outgoing Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, drew a “murmur of disbelief” Wednesday when at an event in San Francisco he compared homosexuality to alcoholism, but those were far from his first controversial statements about gays.

In fact, he has been comparing homosexuality to alcoholism for years, including in his 2008 book, On My Honor. “Even if an alcoholic is powerless over alcohol once it enters his body, he still makes a choice to drink,” the former presidential candidate wrote. “And even if someone is attracted to a person of the same sex, he or she still makes a choice to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender.”

Perry’s most famous anti-gay volley was probably the 2011 campaign ad for his last presidential run that denounced the fact that “gays can serve openly in the military.” He also has compared his opposition to gays belonging to the Boy Scouts with former Texas Governor Sam Houston brave stance against slavery. He has also called the Obama administration’s use of American foreign aid to promote human rights for gays and lesbians abroad a “silly idea.”

“Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights. This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop,” Perry said in a statement.

In his 2010 book Fed Up!, Perry condemned the “oligarchs in robes” of the Supreme Court for the 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down anti-sodomy laws in America, which had long been used to target gay couples.

Not all Perry’s statements about homosexuality have been anti-gay. Perry has said that gay marriage is ultimately a state’s rights issue and that it was “fine with [him]” for New York to allow gays to marry, though he later walked back that position. At a Dallas Baptist church last year he suggested a more accepting approach to other “lifestyles”—he never actually said “gay” though many afterward interpreted the sermon as an implicit pivot away from anti-gay rhetoric.

“We cannot condemn certain lifestyles while turning a blind eye to sins that in God’s eye are just as grievous,” he said. “We must love all, welcome all and be a model of Christ to all. “

TIME Congress

Congressman Breaks Down on House Floor After Oregon School Shooting

Amid a moment of silence on the floor

When the Oregon congressional delegation took to the House floor on Tuesday to ask for a moment of silence in the wake of a deadly school shooting, Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer was overwhelmed with emotion.

“[The] Troutdale High School is a terrific institution in my district,” Blumenauer said, before showing a gift students there had recently given him during a visit. When Blumenauer held up the wooden bowtie decorated with a bicycle on the House floor, he began to fight back tears.

Police say a teenage gunman killed one student and injured a teacher before turning the gun on himself at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Ore., on Tuesday. All five members of Congress from Oregon, Democrats Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, and Suzanne Bonamici, and Republican Greg Walden, stood with Blumenauer as he laid out the details of Tuesday’s tragic events.

“I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that the House observe a moment of silent in support for the victims, their families, and the community,” Blumenauer said through tears.

TIME health

Louisiana Bill Would Require Women to Stay on Life Support if Pregnant

The bill would require doctors to keep women on life support regardless of family's wishes

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon decide on a bill that could require hospitals to keep pregnant women on life support, regardless of her family’s wishes.

The bill, which passed the Louisiana State House of Representatives last week, specifies that if a woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant, she must be kept on life support.

State lawmakers say the law would protect healthy fetuses from meeting an untimely demise as a result of the mother’s condition. Abortion rights groups oppose the legislation, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

A state Senate version of the bill allowed family members to request that expectant mothers be taken off of life support, Huffington Post said, but the provision was scrapped in committee. Jindal is expected to sign the bill into law.

A similar law faced scrutiny in Texas earlier this year, when a 14-week pregnant woman was kept on life support for weeks after her husband found her unconscious. A judge later ruled the family’s request to remove her from life support must be granted.

TIME

This Is The Most Stressed-Out State In America

Florida commute
Traffic on the I-4 Interstate Highway in Florida. According to a study by Real Estate blog Movoto, Florida ranks as the most stressful state in America. Getty Images

Beaches, sunshine and citrus fruit apparently don't bring peace of mind to the residents of this state

Updated July 10, 5pm

What stresses you out? A long commute? Check. Being unemployed? Check. Working long hours? Check. Living in Florida? Double check.

Florida wins the unhappy distinction of being the most stressed-out state in the country, according to a study by a real estate blog. Movoto used statistics from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey on the percentage of people without health insurance, housing expenses and hours worked per week in order to measure stress across the country.

Florida’s combination of high unemployment (11.3% between 2008 and 2012) and its high rate of people without health insurance during that time (25.8%) made it the most stressed-out state in the country, according to the site’s methodology.

After Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, California and Nevada were the most stressed-out. Long commutes stress out Georgians, high population density is getting on New Jerseyans’ nerves, Californians pay too much for housing, and Nevadans have unemployment rates and low insurance rates.

We live in a stressed-out nation, but North Dakotans were the least stressed in the lower 48, according to the criteria.

[Movoto]

This story was updated to clarify the origin of the statistics used by Movoto to calculate stress

TIME States

Colorado’s New Pot Banking Law Won’t Solve Cash Problems

Over 400 Marijuana Stores Ordered To Close As City Regulates Industry
Tim Blakeley, manager of Sunset Junction medical marijuana dispensary, shows marijuana plant buds on May 11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images

A new law signed by the governor offers a symbolic fix to a serious problem

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill Friday designed to create the world’s first state-level banking system for legal cannabis companies, which have complained that their lack of access to basic banking services creates difficult and dangerous risks.

But the financial industry quickly cast doubt on whether the legislation will address issues faced by marijuana businesses in the state, where recreational pot became legal this year. Asked what it would accomplish, Colorado Bankers Association CEO Don Childears said: “Basically, absolutely nothing.”

“We don’t think it can be effective, and it can never get off the ground,” he said.

The bill allows legal marijuana shops to create a makeshift financial network that would help them gain access to credit and merchant services. A lack of access to banking has been the single biggest problem for Colorado’s recreational weed merchants, which have been legally operating in the state since Jan. 1. Forced to operate million-dollar businesses in cash, marijuana companies run the risk of robbery and face myriad logistical difficulties.

The problem with the bill is that it does nothing to change the reality that blocked pot shops from banks in the first place. Marijuana, which is classified as a Schedule I drug, remains illegal under federal law. As a result, financial institutions are wary of taking on cannabis companies as clients, even in states where some form of the drug is legal.

The legislation signed Friday allows pot businesses to petition the Federal Reserve for clearance. But even industry advocates acknowledge that the chances of obtaining a green light are slim. “It’s probably not going to work, but we’re trying,” said Mike Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.

The point of the effort is simply to demonstrate that. The industry believes that the banking conundrum can only be solved in Washington—either by Congressional action, or by rescheduling marijuana as more and more states adopt permissive laws. The law signed Friday is an effort to show federal authorities whom Colorado officials have been petitioning for a solution that the state has done everything it can to resolve the issue.

“I don’t see anything coming out of it; it’s more symbolic than anything,” said Elan Nelson, who works in business development for Medicine Man, a legal retail shop in north Denver. “I think this starts the conversation. And if, for some reason, it works—great. We need this desperately.”

TIME States

Blue States Barack Obama Won in 2012 Have More Rich Than Red States

The states with most poor residents tend to vote red, and those with the richest vote blue.

States that voted for Democrat Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election have, on average, a higher percentage of households that make $150,000 per year, and a lower percentage of households that make $25,000 or less per year, than the red states that supported Republican Mitt Romney, according to U.S. Census data collected by research engine FindTheBest. Morethan150k

Note, the U.S. Census defines household as people who occupy a single housing unit.

The data shows that the percentage of households in blue states that make over $150,000 per year—11%—is slightly above the national average of 9.4%.

Blue states also account for all but one of the top 17 states by percentage of households in the highest income bracket, with Alaska (12.8%) being the only red state to make the list. Red states, on the other hand, fall slightly below the national average, at 6.9%, and account for all but one (Maine, 5.6%) of the bottom 12 states by percentage of households making at least $150,000 per year.

So which states have the most (and least) households making $150,000?

The highest earner is D.C.—a blue district, not a state—where 20 percent of households make over $150,000 per year. One secret to D.C.’s high income might be its high concentration of well-educated individuals, where 53% of the population holds a bachelor’s degree, well above the national average of 28%.

Ranking in spot two is New Jersey, where 18% of households make over $150,000 per year. Once you factor in the cost of living however, those high incomes don’t sound quite as lofty. 68% of homeowners—compared to the national average of 32%—spend more than $2,000 in homeowner costs per month.

At the bottom of the list is West Virginia, where only 3.9% of households are in the highest bracket. It’s also dead last for well-being out of all 50 states, according to the 2013 Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index.

Scroll over any state in the map below to find the percentage of households in the $150,000 or higher income bracket.

FindTheBest also crunched the numbers for percentage of households making below $25,000 per year. lessthan25k

States that voted blue ranked better than red states for percentage of households making $25,000 or less per year (21.6% vs. 25.9%); putting blue states 1.7 percentage points below the national average of 23.3%, and red states 2.6 percentage points above it.

Additionally, whereas the highest earning states were almost completely blue, the lowest earning states are almost completely red—New Mexico (with 28.3% making $25,000 or less) being the only blue state among the 14 lowest earners.

As for the poorest states?

West Virginia comes close to ranking the most poorly again, with 32% of households making less than $25,000, but Mississippi (also ranking poorly on the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index, in 48th place) outpaces it, at 34%.

To see the percentage for every state, scroll over the map below.

TIME States

Dengue Fever Infections in Florida Make Health Experts Wary of Mosquito-Borne Outbreak

Deadly disease on the rise in the Sunshine State

After 42 Floridians came down with dangerous mosquito-borne diseases, state officials advised citizens on Wednesday to take steps to protect themselves against bug bites.

The Florida Department of Health announced 24 confirmed cases of dengue fever as of last week, and 18 confirmed cases of chikungunya, both viruses that do not have vaccines to prevent them and have not typically been found in North America, the CDC says.

All Floridians infected had traveled to the Caribbean or South America, and officials believe they may have contracted the diseases there, but epidemiologists worry that Florida mosquitos may be spreading the illnesses, which could lead to a potential outbreak, Reuters reports.

Dengue is a potentially fatal disease and both can cause long-term problems.

“The threat is greater than I’ve seen in my lifetime,” said Walter Tabachnick, director of the Florida Medical Entomological Laboratory in Vero Beach. “Sooner or later, our mosquitoes will pick it up and transmit it to us. That is the imminent threat,” he said.

[Reuters]

 

 

 

TIME Crime

Thieves Nab 13,000 Diapers From North Carolina Non-Profit

The diapers, collected by the Diaper Bank of North Carolina, were set to be delivered to needy families in the Durham area

A rash of diaper thefts swept through North Carolina over the weekend.

Like a scene straight out of Raising Arizona, 10,000 and 13,000 diapers were stolen from the Durham-based Diaper Bank of North Carolina, a charitable organization that provides diapers to needy families, the non-profit’s statement Facebook page reported Monday.

“That is a full week’s supply for hundreds of babies in our community!” the Facebook post says.

The organization’s founder and executive director Michelle Old discovered that diapers were missing when she went to pick up a delivery that had been prepared for a local homeless shelter. Old told the Associated Press that the bulk of the missing diapers were in sizes four and five.

“We already struggle and usually are low on those [sizes], but they completely took every diaper,” Old said.

A church group met at the Diaper Bank on Saturday and helped wrap over 6,000 diaper packages for delivery, Old told the AP. At that point, she said, all the shelves were full.

“A couple of people, since hearing about this, have contacted us and say they have been approached in the downtown area with people selling our diapers. Our tags are still on them,” she said.

The Diaper Bank is currently asking for donations of either cash or diapers to replace the missing goods. The organization, which launched in 2013, has covered some “112,133 bottoms” with diapers over the past 11 month, according to a counter on its website.

TIME States

8 States Revving Up Efforts to Get More Electric Cars on the Road

Volkswagen e-up! electric automobiles.
Volkswagen e-up! electric automobiles. Adam Berry—Getty Images

The goal is to have 3.3 million "zero-emission vehicles" on the road by 2025.

Eights states announced Thursday a plan to get 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025. From California to Maryland to Vermont, with some states in between, the goal is to incrementally increase the number of green cars driving on American highways.

The Zero Emission Vehicles Action plan outlines 11 “actions” that the eight states, including California, Vermont, Maryland, Rhode Island, New York, Oregon, and Massachusetts, will adopt in order to get the vehicles on the road. The steps include promoting the availability of zero-emission vehicles, promoting workplace charging and providing consumer incentives for buying green cars.

“This collaborative effort is an important step forward to ensure the success of our zero-emission vehicle programs. Transitioning our light duty transportation fleet to zero emission vehicles is essential if we are to achieve our long term air quality and climate goals,” said Gov. O’Malley in a statement.

About a quarter of the nation’s new cars are sold in the eight states adopting the plan, according to a press release on Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s website. Still, it’s a lofty goal, given the lack of demand in the U.S. for zero-emission vehicles, which include battery powered, hybrid, and hydrogen-fuel cell vehicles. There are about 172,000 such vehicles already on the road, about half of which are in the eight states involved in the new plan.

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