TIME Washington D.C.

Man Who Landed Gyrocopter at Capitol Rejects Plea Deal

Doug Hughes flies his gyrocopter, near the Wauchula Municipal Airport in Wauchula, Fla., March 17, 2015.
James Borchuck—Tampa Bay Times/TNS Doug Hughes flies his gyrocopter, near the Wauchula Municipal Airport in Wauchula, Fla., March 17, 2015.

The offer was 10 months in jail

Douglas Hughes, a man who landed his gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. capitol as a protest, rejected a plea deal that would have given him 10 months in jail.

His attorney believes zero to six months in jail is more reasonable, the Associated Press reports, and Hughes insists no person or property was damaged.

Hughes is a mail carrier who landed on the capital lawn to protest money in politics.

The area Hughes flew was restricted airspace and was detained when he landed. He is now barred from flying any aircraft.

Hughes’ next court date is in August.

[Associated Press]

TIME public health

These Are the Healthiest (and Unhealthiest) Cities in America

A jogger runs past the United States Capitol building at sunrise in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013.
Pete Marovich—Bloomberg/Getty Images A jogger runs past the United States Capitol building at sunrise in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013.

West Coast cities make up six of the top 10

For the second year running Washington, D.C., tops the American Fitness Index (AFI) ranking as the healthiest metropolitan area in the U.S.

The nation’s capital can credit an above average access to public infrastructure for the top spot, according to the eighth annual report.

Minneapolis–St.Paul, Minn., came in second and three California metro areas — San Diego, the Bay Area and Sacramento — rounded out the top five.

“Our goal is to provide communities and residents with resources that help them assess, respond and achieve a better, healthier life,” said Walter Thompson, chair of the AFI advisory board, in a press release.

Indianapolis came in last place as it failed to reach the target goal in nearly all of the 32 health indicators measured. Memphis and Oklahoma City also ranked near the bottom.

The AFI used publicly available data points that are measured routinely and can be changed through community effort (so climate cannot be considered a health indicator).

Below you can find a list of the top-10 healthiest metro areas, according to the AFI:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. Minneapolis
  3. San Diego
  4. San Francisco
  5. Sacramento, Calif.
  6. Denver
  7. Portland
  8. Seattle
  9. Boston
  10. San Jose, Calif.
TIME Accident

At Least 6 Killed, Dozens Injured as Amtrak Train Derails in Philadelphia

More than 140 passengers were taken to nearby hospitals

An Amtrak train bound for New York City derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, leaving at least six people dead and more than a hundred injured, officials said.

The train appeared to go off the tracks while going into a turn about 9:30 p.m., according to the Associated Press, one of whose own staff members happened to be on board.

“The front of the train is really mangled,” AP employee Paul Cheung said. “It’s a complete wreck. The whole thing is like a pile of metal.”

Images and videos posted to social media showed passengers struggling to crawl out of train cars that had flipped onto their sides. “There was dust and debris, I was choking,” Patrick Murphy, a former congressman who was on the train, said on MSNBC early Wednesday morning.

The train, the Northeast Regional 188, had departed from Washington, D.C., earlier that day.

Officials initially said 140 of the 243 people on board the train had been taken to local hospitals, with six people in critical condition. As of early Wednesday morning, there were at least eight patients in critical condition at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, one of the facilities treating victims of the crash, according to NBC Philadelphia.

Hundreds of first responders rushed to the scene following the crash, including police, fire and rail officials. A team from the National Transportation Safety Board was due to arrive Wednesday morning to investigate the crash, and the Federal Railroad Administration said at least eight of its investigators would be dispatched to the scene.

“It is an absolute disastrous mess, never seen anything like this in my life,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said, adding that all seven train cars were in “various stages of disarray.

“We walked the entire length of the train area, and the engine completely separated from the rest of the train, and one of the cars is perpendicular to the rest of the cars. It’s unbelievable,” he added.

Other passengers on the train included Jannelle Richards, a producer for NBC Nightly News, and Murphy, who tweeted photos of firefighters helping people escape a lopsided train carriage.

Richards said she heard a loud crash and saw people fly up in the air, followed by “jerking back and forth” and “a lot of smoke.” She also saw several passengers bleeding.

Amtrak announced earlier that it has canceled all train service between New York City and Philadelphia for the rest of the evening, and the incident will likely impact service in heavily trafficked Northeastern corridor for much longer. More than 11 million people traveled along that corridor, which runs between Washington and Boston, in 2014.

“There’s no circumstance under which there would be any Amtrak service this week through Philadelphia,” Nutter said.


TIME China

China Has Become the World’s Biggest Crude Oil Importer for the First Time

Holiday travel rush congests roads in Chinese cities
Feng lei—Imaginechina/AP Masses of vehicles move slowly during a traffic jam near the entrance to Lianhuo (Lianyungang-Khorgos) Expressway during the Labor Day holiday in Zhengzhou city, central China's Henan province, 1 May 2015.

The news reflects both China's soaring energy consumption and America's shale revolution

China is now the largest importer of crude oil in the world. In April, it surpassed the U.S., which has traditionally held the slot, with imports of 7.4 million barrels per day (bpd) or 200,000 more than the U.S., according to the Financial Times.

The news comes as a surprise because the Chinese economy has been slowing and just this weekend, in an effort to stimulate growth, the People’s Bank of China cut interest rates for the third time in 6 months.

Over the next few months, the U.S. and China may be in and out of the top spot, but because American imports dropped by about 3 million bpd in the last decade (thanks in large part to shale extractions) and because China’s purchases have boosted seven-fold, the Chinese should be the top crude oil importer on a long term basis.

China overtook the United States as the world’s top energy consumer in 2010 and is already the number one purchaser of many commodities, such as coal, iron ore and most metals.

TIME Congress

Washington Kids Should Be Able to Sled Down Capitol Hill, Lawmaker Says

Washington DC Area Hit With Mid-March Snow
Win McNamee—Getty Images Jon Ward sleds with his daughter Gwen and son Jethro on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol on March 17, 2014 in Washington D.C.

The District of Columbia representative wants a ban on sledding on the U.S. Capitol grounds lifted before snowstorm

The District of Columbia’s representative in Congress has formally requested that a ban that forbids sledding on the U.S. Capitol grounds be waived in anticipation of an upcoming snow storm.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington D.C.wrote to U.S. Capitol Police Board Chair Frank Larkin on Wednesday requesting the ban be removed for March 5-8, so that D.C. families can take advantage of the snow.

“This could be the last snowstorm the D.C. area gets this winter, and may be one of the best for sledding in years,” Norton said in a statement. “Children and their parents should able to enjoy sledding on one of the best hills in the city. This is a one-time waiver that will allow D.C. kids to sled while we await a more formal review of the ban, which will likely come after the last snow has fallen in our region. Have a heart, Mr. Larkin, a kid’s heart that is.”

In February, Norton made a separate request to overturn the ban. Norton says families are calling her office, asking for the ban to removed. You can read her letter here.

TIME cities

Know Right Now: Washington, D.C. Legalizes Pot

Four other states have already legalized recreational marijuana

Recreational marijuana use and adult possession (up to two ounces) became legal in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, but there’s still no way to legally buy the drug. Watch today’s Know Right Now to find out more.

TIME architecture

Why the Washington Monument Has ‘Shrunk’ By 10 Inches

Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images A jogger passes the Washington Monument on a cold blustery morning January 27, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Symbol of the nation's capital loses a little of its stature

The Washington Monument now stands 10 inches shorter than when it was completed in 1884, or at least that’s what a new government measurement announced Monday suggests.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used new technology to calculate the monument’s height at 554 feet 7 and 11/32 inches. But in 1884, the towering obelisk was measured at 555 feet 5⅛ inches.

What’s behind the incredible shrinking monument? A difference in the way the measurement was conducted likely accounts for most of the difference, according to NOAA. Engineers today used international standards to measure from the “lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance” to the structure’s peak. It’s unclear what standard engineers used when the monument was first built.

“We have to be cautious in comparing this new height to the historic one, since we do not know precisely the actual starting point that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Col. Thomas Casey used in 1884,” said Dru Smith, a NOAA scientist. “Today’s elevation reflects the international standards for measurement of a building’s height as well as considerable technological improvements.”

The change in height not due to the difference in measurement standards is likely three-eighths of an inch, according to a report in the Washington Post. That change is likely due to wear and tear to the monument’s cap.

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: From Nationwide Protests to a Historic Space Launch

Watch this week's #KnowRightNow to catch up on all the latest stories

This week, Cyber Monday shattered records with sales surpassing $2 billion. Sales were up 17% compared to last year, making it the biggest shopping day ever.

Protests flared around the country after a grand jury decided there would be no indictment in the case of Eric Garner, a black man who died while being violently subdued by the NYPD. Protesters blocked major roadways in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington D.C., and more than 200 protesters were arrested in New York alone.

The Orion spacecraft successfully launched Friday morning, orbiting 3,600 miles above the planet, 15 times higher than the International Space Station. The spacecraft orbited Earth twice before landing in the Pacific Ocean.

And finally, Warner Bros. revealed the cast for its movie Suicide Squad this week. The film will feature Will Smith as Deadshot, Tom Hardy as Rick Flagg, Jared Leto as The Joker, and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. It’s slated for release in 2016.

TIME politics

Why Thousands of Washingtonians Loved Marion Barry

Marion Barry Discussed his New Autobiography and Met With Locals
The Washington Post—The Washington Post/Getty Images D.C. Council member Marion Barry discussed his new autobiography, "Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr." during an event hosted by the Washington Informer at the Old Congress Heights School in S.E. Washington.

Vincent C. Gray is the Mayor of the District of Columbia.

The former mayor began his career as a civil rights activist and helped build the District’s black middle class

When Marion Barry, Jr. passed away last Sunday at the age of 78, many likely took little more note than to say “good riddance.” After all, most of the nation knew about the so-called “Mayor for Life” primarily from his appearances in national headlines after getting arrested, while in office, for smoking crack cocaine–or for his last term in office, when a congressionally appointed Control Board took over our city’s finances and many of our agencies.

But there was a vastly different side to Barry – a side that endeared him to tens of thousands of Washingtonians over the years and a side that became his greatest political asset, enabling him to win redemption again and again at the ballot box.

Barry cut his political teeth early on, as a civil-rights activist and a leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. There, he organized sit-ins and got young people involved in creating a new future for African Americans. Having been born into a sharecropper’s family in the sweltering oppression of Jim Crow-era Mississippi, he knew well the daunting height of the barriers to advancement and success faced by African Americans.

When Barry came to Washington in 1965 to work for SNCC, he saw a city that, in many ways, was every bit as segregated as the Mississippi of his childhood. Moreover, he found a majority-black city that was ruled not by its residents, but by a Congress in which its residents didn’t even have a voting voice. And that Congress had generally delegated oversight of the District to its most conservative white Southern members.

Marion Barry had found the place where he would make his mark, first as an activist for better relations with police and better employment opportunities for African Americans in the District. He got elected to the school board, and then finally, after the advent of Home Rule in the District, to the first popularly elected D.C. Council.

In his first term as mayor, he achieved some truly remarkable successes. He helped get the city’s chaotic finances under control, helped turn our Metropolitan Police Department into an agency whose officers are much more reflective of the population they serve than many other police agencies around the country, helped build the District’s black middle class through a groundbreaking program that required a share of city business to go to minority-owned enterprises and created a summer employment program for the District’s youth.

I still meet people who remember getting their first job because of a program that Mayor Barry started. And it’s this Marion Barry – the one who fought courageously for fairness and justice for much of his career – that those of us who saw him at his best choose to remember.

It may surprise many who aren’t keenly aware of the District’s history that Marion Barry won his first mayoral term largely by relying on upper-middle-class white voters and good-government advocates. Despite an unfortunate later choice to oppose marriage equality, Mayor Barry was one of the earliest elected officials to openly embrace the LGBT community, passing one of the nation’s earliest LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination laws. His legacy is so much more complex and wide-reaching than that fateful drug sting would reflect.

I knew Barry for years, and one anecdote leaps to mind as an example of his true character. I once served as executive director of what was then known as the Association for Retarded Citizens (now called The Arc of D.C.). One of our key advocacy goals was to move people with intellectual disabilities from an inhumane institution named Forest Haven to community living. There was fierce opposition in many neighborhoods to group homes, bolstered by some of the most egregious myths imaginable. One evening, I was with Mayor Barry in an affluent community where the District was preparing to establish a home. Nearly 200 people showed up for this meeting, with one purpose – to stop this home from opening.

Once Barry had concluded his presentation, a man rose and began to pepper him with questions. When it became apparent that the man’s inquiries had no constructive purpose, Barry said, “You really don’t want any answers, do you? If you want to talk about how we make this work, I will stay with you all night. Otherwise, I have nothing else to say to you!” It was vintage Barry – standing up for disadvantaged people who could not effectively fight for themselves. The meeting ended uneventfully – and the home soon opened and proved a huge success.

And so, like many other Washingtonians, I choose to remember Marion Barry by remembering his lifelong commitment to building up our city and freeing it from congressionally imposed shackles. I hope that history will remember, and honor, his virtues and successes – because they far outnumber his failures and foibles.

Vincent C. Gray is the Mayor of the District of Columbia.

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 weather

Know Right Now: Northeast Braces for a Holiday Nor’easter

Watch today's #KnowRightNow to catch up on the latest trending stories

In today’s trending stories, winter weather will wreak havoc for the 41 million holiday travelers expected to hit the roads on Wednesday and Thursday. Storms could dump as much as 18″ of snow in northern New Jersey, and will affect most of the northeast.

Airports in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Newark, NJ are expected to experience the most cancellations and delays. Interstates 76, 81, and 90 will experience the worst weather and traffic.

And lastly, many major airlines are allowing customers to rebook without fees. More than 200 flight cancellations have already been announced for Wednesday.

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