TIME nature

Grand Canyon Development Plan Sparks Dispute

grand canyon
Don Smith—Getty Images

Plans for the canyon's rim include a multimedia complex with an IMAX facility, retail shops, hotels, an RV park and a gondola tram

As morning light painted the far-reaching buttes of the Grand Canyon gold, Renae Yellowhorse stood at the edge of the canyon’s rim, looked out toward where the rivers met below her, and smiled.

“It is my church, it is where I say my prayers. It is where I give my offerings. It’s where I commune with the holy ones, the gods that walk along the canyon,” said Yellowhorse, a member of the Navajo Nation.

This place, called “the confluence,” is where the Colorado River meets the Little Colorado River on the canyon’s east side. According to the Navajo creation story, the confluence is where their people first emerged.

And now this Navajo-owned land is at the center of an ugly land-use dispute…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME States

Indiana Bill Would Allow the Dead to Vote

Voting booths in polling place
Getty Images

The Whooooo-sier state

It’s difficult to vote if you’re dead. (Unless you live in Chicago. Or New York. Or Florida.) But an Indiana lawmaker is hoping to make election season a bit easier for the recently departed at least.

Indiana Rep. Matt Pierce proposed a bill taken up by the House Elections Committee Wednesday that would allow an absentee ballot from someone who dies before Election Day to be counted.

MORE: Jeb Bush Pitches Conservatism for the Middle Class

According to the Indianapolis Star, Pierce said he was motivated to propose the bill after hearing that former U.S. Rep. Frank McCloskey’s vote in 2004 wasn’t counted, because he died from cancer before Election Day.

TIME real estate

These Are the Best States to Grow Old In

senior-couple-holding-hands
Getty Images

The list considered income, health, labor, and environmental indicators to rank Utah at the top

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

The U.S. elderly population is growing rapidly. The number of Americans 65 and older grew from 35 million in 2000 to 41.4 million in 2011 and to an estimated 44.7 million in 2013. This trend is expected to continue as members of the baby boomer generation reach retirement age.

While it can be difficult to grow old in some U.S. states, life for seniors is often far worse in many other countries. Still, the United States will face increasingly large challenges. In the coming years, state officials, families, and individuals will need to pay more attention to the needs of the elderly — to improve medical care, access to services, infrastructure, or other amenities increasingly necessary late in life.

HelpAge International evaluates each year the social and economic well-being of elderly country residents in its Global AgeWatch Index. Last year, the United States was among the better places to grow old in the world, at eighth place. However, domestically, each state offers a very different quality of life for its older residents. Based on an independent analysis by 24/7 Wall St., which incorporated a range of income, health, labor, and environmental indicators, Utah is the best state in which to grow old, while Mississippi is the worst.

To be considered among the best states to grow old, senior citizens in the states had to have relatively strong income security, as measured by several indicators. While the national median income among families with a head of household 65 and older was $37,847 in 2013, comparable incomes in eight of the best states to grow old, for example, exceeded $40,000 in 2013. A typical elderly household in Hawaii led the nation in 2013 with a median income of $55,650.

Retirees often have fixed income, as they begin to tap into their savings and collect social security. Kate Bunting, CEO of AgeWatch USA, explained that, “It is really important for older people to have reliable access to a guaranteed income.” More than 90% of Americans 65 and older in the vast majority of all states received social security income in 2013. The average monthly social security benefit of $1,294, however, was likely not enough for many seniors.

As a result, many older Americans relied on non-social security income, such as withdrawals from 401Ks and savings as a supplement. In 2013, 47.9% of Americans 65 and older had such supplemental retirement incomes. More than 50% of older residents in four of the best states to grow old had such incomes. At stake, according to Bunting, is the elderly’s “ability to eat nutritious foods, which impacts their health, and their ability to access other critical services.”

With lower, and often fixed, incomes, elderly Americans are vulnerable financially. In addition, age often brings a host of health problems, causing greater reliance on medical and accessibility services. To determine how the states fare when it comes to health care, we examined health services and outcomes. In the best states, life expectancy was relatively high. In eight of the 10 states, it was at least 80 years.

A good education, which can lead to employment opportunities and higher incomes, is also an indication of well-being. While less than one-quarter of Americans 65 and older had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, at least 28% of seniors in seven of the best states had attained such a level of education. More than 34% of Colorado’s elderly population were college-educated as of 2013, the highest rate nationwide.

As older people tend to be more vulnerable to criminals, the best states to grow old also needed to be relatively safe. In all of the 10 states, the violent crime in 2013 was less than 300 incidents per 100,000 people, all among the lower rates reviewed.

In addition, policies often shape the quality of life for a state’s elderly population. Smart Growth America rated state-level infrastructure policies and their effectiveness in serving all residents, including the elderly. While many states had not passed any such policies, a majority of the best states to grow old had done so in recent years. Bunting suggested that as the aging population grows, it will become increasingly “important that you have the right kinds of policies in place that help support a quality old age.” Adapting to these demographic patterns through age-friendly policy, Bunting continued, is “important and worthwhile to do, no matter what age you are.”

These are the best states to grow old.

10. Massachusetts
> Median household income (65+): $40,020 (15th highest)
> Pct. with a disability (65+): 34.1% (10th lowest)
> Pct. with a bachelor’s degree or higher (65+): 29.2% (7th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 404.0 per 100,000 residents (16th highest)

Based on income, health, labor, and environmental indicators, Massachusetts is the 10th best state to grow old. In particular, Massachusetts’ elderly population has the benefit of an exceptionally strong health care system. In a state where the vast majority of residents were insured in 2013, less than 0.5% of elderly residents aged 65 and over were not, among the lowest rate in the country. Older Massachusetts residents are also relatively well educated. Nearly 30% had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, one of the higher rates. Also, as in a majority of the best states to grow old, Massachusetts’ policies are rated favorably for considering the needs of seniors and other groups that require more services. In particular, state officials introduced a directive that would require all public transportation land use plans to include features necessary to offer greater access for people of all capabilities.

9. Washington
> Median household income (65+): $42,287 (12th highest)
> Pct. with a disability (65+): 37.4% (17th highest)
> Pct. with a bachelor’s degree or higher (65+): 29.8% (5th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 277.9 per 100,000 residents (21st lowest)

Less than 48% of America’s population 65 and older had some form of retirement income, excluding social security benefits. In Washington, nearly 53% of elderly residents had retirement incomes to supplement their social security benefits, one of the highest proportions among all states. In addition to relatively strong income security, seniors living in Washington rated their accessibility to services an 8.9 out of 10, better than how seniors rated their access in all other states. Older Washington residents were also well-educated compared to their peers in other states. Nearly 30% of people 65 and older in Washington had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, one of the highest rates in the country.

8. Connecticut
> Median household income (65+): $44,240 (7th highest)
> Pct. with a disability (65+): 32.1% (2nd lowest)
> Pct. with a bachelor’s degree or higher (65+): 28.3% (11th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 254.5 per 100,000 residents (15th lowest)

Connecticut residents were expected to live nearly 81 years in 2011, the third highest life expectancy in the country. Just 32.1% of older Connecticut residents had a disability as of 2013, nearly the lowest rate. Physical health among older residents likely contributed to longer lives. According to a recent OECD study, Connecticut residents rated their general health a 7.8 out of 10. Also, the median household income among Connecticut elderly residents was more than $44,000, well above the national median of $37,847 in that age group. While the relationship between income and health is hotly debated by experts, high incomes likely allow older residents greater access to services.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME States

Lawsuit Looks to Legalize Aid in Dying in New York

Latest 'death with dignity' push following the death of Brittany Maynard

A group of patients and doctors filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking the New York Supreme Court to rule that aid in dying to terminally ill patients is legal in the state.

The lawsuit argues that having a doctor help a mentally sound, terminally ill patient end their life does not fall under the state’s current assisted-suicide ban, under which physicians can be prosecuted for manslaughter.

The plaintiffs—four doctors, three terminally ill patients, a nurse and the organization End of Life Choices New York—also argues that barring physicians from helping patients obtain life-ending medication is a violation of the state constitution’s equal protection clause, because doctors already help terminally ill patients in some situations, like removing life support.

“For some dying patients, they find themselves trapped in a dying process they find unbearable,” said Kathryn Tucker, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, at a news conference Wednesday, which included two patients who were party to the lawsuit.

Steve Goldenberg, a 55-year-old New York City resident dying of AIDS-related diseases, said that he hopes to gain some control over his medical condition, which has required several surgeries, radiation and constant medication.

“In New York today, my doctor fears even discussing aid in dying with me,” Goldenberg said. “I am asking the court to clarify that my doctor can provide medication I could ingest to achieve a peaceful death.”

Sara Myers, a 60-year-old woman suffering from ALS, said she’s suing New York state “to remove the legal barrier between my doctor and myself that prevents me from achieving a peaceful and dignified death, at the time and place of my choosing.”

Polls often show support for allowing terminally ill patients to end their own lives, but so far aid in dying is only legal in five states: Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. But the so-called “death with dignity” movement has gained traction in recent months following the death of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old who spoke publicly about moving from California to Oregon in order to legally end her life. Lawmakers in several states have recently proposed right-to-die laws, including New York.

The lawsuit may put the state on a similar path as New Mexico and Montana, where courts have decided that there is nothing legally preventing physicians from helping a terminally ill patient who is mentally competent end their own life.

MORE: More States Considering Right-to-Die Laws After Brittany Maynard

TIME faith

Noah’s Ark Theme Park Group Sues Kentucky Over Withdrawn Tax Breaks

Ark Encounter Concept art of Noah's Ark

Answers in Genesis to sue for $18 million over tax rebates withdrawn for group's hiring practices

A Creationist group building a Noah’s Ark-inspired theme park said Tuesday it would sue Kentucky for $18 million in tax rebates the state withdrew over its hiring practices.

Answers in Genesis President and CEO Ken Ham announced the lawsuit in a YouTube video, claiming the state breached the group’s right to freedom of religion by denying the tax incentives on the grounds that the group was using the project as an “extension of [its] ministry.”

Kentucky’s tourism secretary said in December that the park required a “salvation testimony” and a “Creation belief statement” in its job postings, which the state said was hiring discrimination based on religious grounds.

“[The lawsuit] really involves freedom of religion, free exercise of religion, freedom of speech in this great nation of America,” Ham said in the video. “Numerous bloggers and media outlets have spread a lot of misinformation about the tax rebate program, and also a lot of false information about employment laws as they relate to the Ark Encounter project.”

Ham, who became known for his creation debate last year against Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” was joined in the video by Mike Johnson, Chief Counsel of Freedom Guard, a religious liberty defense organization that will represent Answers in Genesis.

“This is public interest law,” Johnson said. “We’re defending freedom for everyone, and I think that’s an important cause that all of us should be involved in.”

TIME States

Detroit Man Who Walked 21 Miles to Work Each Day to Finally Be Bought Car

James The Walker
Ryan Garza—AP In this Jan. 29, 2015, photo, James Robertson, 56, of Detroit, walks toward Woodward Aveune in Detroit to catch his morning bus to Somerset Collection in Troy before walking to his job at Schain Mold Engineering in Rochester Hills. Getting to and from his factory job 23 miles away in Rochester Hills, he'll take a bus partway there and partway home and walk 21 miles according to the Detroit Free Press

A kickstarted campaign has, so far, raised $130,000

James Robertson has arguably America’s harshest commute, a 21-mile trek that takes him through the Detroit’s worst neighborhoods. Now, his daily journey has captured the nation’s attention and prompted a GoFundMe campaign that has raised $130,000 to provide him with a car.

For the last decade, the 56-year-old has walked eight miles to work and 13 miles back again. He usually arrives home at 4 a.m., sleeps for two hours, and then wakes up at 6 a.m. to return to his factory job, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The daily odyssey takes him through Detroit’s infamous 8 Mile neighborhood in the middle of the night. But despite the ordeal, Robertson remains upbeat about his situation. “I sleep a lot on the weekend, yes I do,” he says. “I can’t imagine not working.”

A Sunday profile in the Detroit Free Press inspired hundreds of people to offer Robertson cash, chauffeur services and even cars.

Evan Leedy, a student of Wayne State University, was inspired to start a GoFundMe campaign. “I set the goal at the beginning of $5,000. Right now my page has more than $30,000,” Leedy said on Sunday evening.

Yet donations have now left $30,000 in the dust — the total stands at $130,000 at time of publication and is rising fast.

Robertson said that he is proud that he has managed his commute for all these years, but with the help of the kickstarter campaign, it looks like his walking days may be over.

[Detroit Free Press]

 

Read next: Inside the California Prison Where Inmates Train Rescue Dogs

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 2

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Never trust a corporation to do a library’s job.

By Andy Baio in the Message

2. Cost-cutting is killing U.S. military innovation.

By Dan Steinbock in Project Syndicate

3. We should streamline the patchwork of state licenses and certifications required for many jobs.

By Adam Ozimek in Forbes

4. Focusing on responsiveness over efficiency can spur business breakthroughs.

By First Round Review

5. A new concept for a cheaper, lighter space telescope could reach 1,000 times the resolution of Hubble.

By the University of Colorado Boulder

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

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 States

Now There’s a Day in Texas Celebrating American Sniper Chris Kyle

Chris Kyle
Paul Moseley—MCT/Getty Images Chris Kyle

Monday is Chris Kyle day

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas is declaring Monday Chris Kyle Day in honor of the Navy SEAL sniper featured in the Oscar-nominated Clint Eastwood film.

“In honor of a Texas son, a Navy SEAL and an American hero – a man who defended his brothers and sisters in arms on and off the battlefield – I am declaring Feb. 2 Chris Kyle Day in Texas,” Abbott said Friday in a speech to the Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars Mid-Winter Convention, KWTX-TV news reports.

Kyle is said to have been the deadiliest sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills. He was shot to death in February 2013 at the age of 38 at a North Texas shooting range along with another veteran.

Iraq War veteran Eddie Ray Routh was charged in their deaths.

[KWTX-TV]

TIME Laws

Arkansas Will Carry On Celebrating Robert E. Lee Day On MLK Day

Dewey Spencer
Danny Johnston—AP Dewey Spencer, of Judsonia, Ark., holds a portrait of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee after a meeting of the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, at the State Capitol in Little Rock, Ark.

A bill would've moved the commemoration of the Confederate general to November

Arkansas will continue marking the memory of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on the same date as the nation remembers civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., after a proposal to remove Lee from the Jan. 19 holiday met opposition from state lawmakers.

An Arkansas House committee rejected a proposal on Wednesday to designate Nov. 30 as “Patrick Cleburne – Robert E. Lee Southern Heritage Day,” giving the Confederate general a separate memorial day from the one celebrating King. (Cleburne was a local Confederate general.)

Opponents of the bill said removing Lee from the Jan. 19 holiday would disparage their Southern roots.

(MORE: One Man. One Speech. One Dream)

Arkansas has commemorated Lee every year since the 1940s, but only began celebrating the two holidays on the same day in the 1980s. The state recently faced backlash to the conflated holiday after being widely criticized on social media.

[AP]

TIME States

Indiana Governor Cancels Plans for State-Run News Site

Mike Pence
Michael Conroy—AP Indiana Gov. Mike Pence plans to launch what would amount to a state-run, taxpayer-funded news outlet in February. But on Wednesday, he appeared to back away from plans to unveil the site.

Taxpayer-funded 'Just IN' would feature news stories and profiles written by press secretaries

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has dropped plans to launch a communications site that was widely criticized as a state-run, taxpayer-funded news outlet.

Pence, a Republican, had planned to launch “Just IN,” a website that would include stories written by press secretaries and was described in internal memos as competing with other media outlets, the Indianapolis Star reported. The range would include hard news stories and “lighter features, including personality profiles.”

“At times, Just IN will break news—publishing information ahead of any other news outlet,” said one internal memo. “Strategies for determining how and when to give priority to such ‘exclusive’ coverage remain under discussion.”

(MORE: Indiana Drops Common Core Education Standards)

On Wednesday, Pence appeared to distance himself from the site, telling local radio station WIBC-FM: “As governor I can assure you that (the plan) did not meet my expectations and if this website doesn’t meet my expectations of respecting the role of a free and independent press, I will reject it.”

Indiana House Democrats announced Thursday that they would attempt to block funding for the site, and Pence later announced he wouldn’t launch it.

“However well intentioned, after thorough review of the preliminary planning and careful consideration of the concerns expressed, I am writing you to inform you that I have made a decision to terminate development of the JustIN website immediately,” Pence wrote to several state agencies.

(MORE: 8 Long-Shot Republicans Who Are Running for President)

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