TIME Washington

Hundreds Protest Washington Police Wounding of 2 Unarmed Suspects

Hundreds of people protesting a police shooting gather outside of City Hall in Olympia, Wash., on May 21, 2015
Rachel La Corte—AP Hundreds of people protesting a police shooting gather outside of city hall in Olympia, Wash., on May 21, 2015

The officer reported he was being assaulted with a skateboard early on Thursday before the shooting

(OLYMPIA, Wash.) — Hundreds marched peacefully in Washington state’s capital city to protest a police shooting that wounded two unarmed stepbrothers suspected of trying to steal beer from a grocery store.

The officer reported he was being assaulted with a skateboard early Thursday before the shooting that left a 21-year-old man in critical condition and a 24-year-old man in stable condition. Both were expected to survive.

The stepbrothers are black, and the officer is white, but Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts said, “There’s no indication to me that race was a factor in this case at all.”

Protesters who turned out Thursday evening held signs that read “Race is a Factor” and “We Are Grieving.”

The two men were identified as Andre Thompson, 24, and Bryson Chaplin, 21, both of Olympia.

“It was terrible,” the young men’s mother, Crystal Chaplin, told KIRO-TV. “It’s heartbreaking to see two of my babies in the hospital over something stupid.”

The shooting is being investigated by a team of detectives from several agencies. Brad Watkins, chief deputy of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Department, said two skateboards were recovered from the shooting scene and an investigation will likely take three to six weeks. The young men had no guns, investigators said.

The crowd of demonstrators rallied first at a park, then marched about a mile to a building that houses the Olympia police headquarters and City Hall. Protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter,” ”No Justice, No Peace” and the names of the young men who were shot.

Olympia police tweeted their thanks to marchers “for keeping the event nonviolent.”

“We are committed to helping our community work through this difficult circumstance and help us understand this tragic event,” the police chief told a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Officer Ryan Donald was among those who responded around 1 a.m. Thursday to a call from a Safeway store, Roberts said. Employees said two men tried to steal beer and then threw the alcohol at workers who confronted the pair.

Officers split up to search for the men. Donald encountered two men with skateboards who fit witnesses’ descriptions, and moments later, he radioed in that shots had been fired, the police chief said.

In radio calls released by police, Donald calls dispatchers once he spots the men, and again to report that he fired shots.

“I believe one of them is hit, both of them are running,” Donald said.

He tells dispatchers that one of the men “assaulted me with his skateboard.”

“I tried to grab his friend,” Donald said. “They’re very aggressive, just so you know.”

He says he has one man, then both, at gunpoint and asks for help.

Seconds later, he shouts, “Shots fired! One down,” and asks for more backup units. He then says the second man has been shot.

The police chief said Donald wasn’t injured but an officer “has the right to defend himself” if a suspect wields an object that could be used as a deadly weapon.

Donald, 35, who is on administrative leave pending the investigation, has been with the department for just over three years. No residents have filed complaints against him, and he was recently recognized by the agency for being proactive on investigations, Roberts said. He worked previously as an Army police officer, the chief said.

The shooting follows a string of high-profile killings of unarmed black men by police, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City, which set off weeks of protests and a national “Black Lives Matter” movement that has gained momentum across the country.

Olympia Mayor Stephen H. Buxbaum called for calm in the community.

“It deeply saddens me that we have two young people in the hospital as a result of an altercation with an officer of the law,” he said. “Let’s come together to support their needs, the officer’s needs, the needs of the families and our community’s needs. Let’s not be reactive.”

Merritt Long, a retired chairman of the state’s liquor control board, was one of several residents to attend the news conference Thursday.

“Does the punishment fit the crime?” he asked afterward. “Given the seeming epidemic of this happening not only here but in our country, it makes you pause and wonder what’s going on.”

TIME Washington

Suspect in Killings of Wealthy D.C. Family Arrested

APTOPIX DC Mansion Fire Slayings
Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigator walks out of the fire-damaged multimillion-dollar home in Washington on May 20, 2015

Police have not said why Wint would want to kill 46-year-old Savvas Savopoulos

(WASHINGTON) — A week after authorities said the family was killed in their mansion and it was set on fire.

Daron Dylon Wint, 34, was arrested in northeast Washington shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday, said David Neumann, a U.S. Marshals Service spokesman. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier also confirmed that Wint was in custody.

Police have not detailed why Wint would want to kill 46-year-old Savvas Savopoulos; his 47-year-old wife, Amy; their son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa. Three of them had been stabbed or bludgeoned before the fire.

Police said Thursday that Wint, a certified welder, worked for Savopoulos’ company American Iron Works in the past. Savopoulos was the CEO of American Iron Works, a construction-materials supplier based in Hyattsville, Maryland, that has been involved in major projects in downtown Washington.

Wint was convicted of second-degree assault in Maryland in 2009 and sentenced to 30 days in jail, court records showed. He also pleaded guilty in 2010 to malicious destruction of property, and a burglary charge in that case was dropped.

Wint was born and raised in Guyana and moved to the United States in 2000, when he was almost 20 years old, according to court records filed in Maryland. He joined the Marine Corps that same year and received an honorable discharge for medical reasons, the records show. Following his discharge, he worked as a certified welder, the records show.

Savopoulos moonlighted as a martial arts instructor and had planned to open a martial arts studio in northern Virginia.

The Savopouloses lived in a $4.5 million home in Woodley Park, where mansions are protected by fences and elaborate security systems and local and federal law enforcement officers are a constant presence, in part because Vice President Joe Biden’s official residence is nearby.

Text messages and voicemails from the Savopouloses to their confused and frightened household staff suggest something was amiss in the house many hours before the bodies were found. Their blue Porsche turned up in suburban Maryland. It too had been set on fire.

TIME Drugs

Washington State Marijuana Shops Caught Selling to Minors

Girl holding marijuana in hand , close-up
Getty Images

Four of 22 stores tested for compliance were caught selling weed to underage shoppers in state-run stings

Washington’s retail marijuana businesses got calls from the state liquor control board before the sting operations began, warning them and reminding them about best practices when it comes to keeping weed out of kids’ hands. But when the board sent 18- to 20-year-old operatives into the first batch of stores this month to see if shops would sell them weed, four of them still failed the test. According to the board’s report released Wednesday, that amounted to 18% of 22 operations.

“We’re always going to have the goal of 100% compliance, that’s what we want; [82%] is good, but it’s not great,” says State Senator Ann Rivers, who has continued to work on reforming the state’s retail and medical marijuana industries. “Many of these businesses have invested a lot of time and a lot of money. And it’s stunning to me that they’d be willing to risk their livelihood to do something so foolish.”

By the end of June, the state plans to conduct sting operations at each of the 138 retail marijuana shops reporting sales in Washington. “When the news is out,” the liquor control board’s Brian Smith says of these first numbers, “we’ll see a spike in compliance. That’s what happened on the alcohol side.” In the operations, the underage shoppers present their real IDs if asked but don’t offer an ID if they aren’t; if a store sells them marijuana, they complete the transaction and bring the contraband to officers waiting outside the shops.

Marijuana businesses in Washington that sell to minors face possible license suspensions and fines of up to $2,500. Businesses that fail three times in three years can lose their state-issued licenses, while the person who conducts the actual transaction faces a possible felony charge.

Reformers who wanted to legalize marijuana in Washington and Colorado—and who continue to pursue reform in other states—often argue that weed should be legal because it’s safer than alcohol. Regulations for alcohol, such as selling it only to adults ages 21 and older, have been used as scaffolding for nascent marijuana markets. Smith points out that similar sting operations conducted among liquor sellers in Washington always find slip-ups. Since 2012, monthly checks have found that an average of 85% of businesses, ranging from liquor shops to restaurants, don’t sell to minors.

Colorado conducted their first stings among a sample of 20 retail marijuana shops in 2014 and found 100% compliance, but the vast majority of the state’s more than 250 shops were not tested. Since summer 2014, the state has conducted a total of 137 compliance checks and six shops have been caught selling to minors. Similar checks among liquor sellers in Colorado have found that an average of about 90% of businesses don’t sell alcohol to minors.

Smith chalks some failures up to “human error,” though drivers licenses for residents under age 21 are vertical rather than horizontal in the state. Many shops, he says, have someone stationed at the door and people working the register sometimes mistakenly assume that all shoppers’ IDs have been checked before they show up at the counter. “It’s early. This is a brand new industry that is finding it’s way,” Smith says. “There’s going to be some kinks initially.”

“Because this market is new, some business people don’t have all of their systems in place as much as we might like them to, so I’m going to cut them just the slightest bit of slack,” Rivers says. But she also emphasizes that “part of the expectation of the people of this state was that [a legal marijuana market] would be well taxed and very well regulated to keep it out of the hands of kids.”

While she’s neither thrilled nor deeply disappointed in these first results, Rivers says that attention shouldn’t just be focused on what happens in the stores: “The larger concern for me is people who are purchasing it legally because they’re the right age but then giving it to the underage people.”

A failure to follow the rules gives ammunition to those who did not want to legalize marijuana or who would like to see existing markets fold. But reform advocates point out that there is, at least, some oversight now occurring. “It’s always disappointing when there are isolated incidents of non-compliance, but it’s also a powerful example of how a legal, regulated market leads to more accountability and responsibility,” says Taylor West, spokesperson for the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Because you can certainly bet no one’s checking IDs in the criminal market, and a regulatory process incentivizes legal businesses to play by the rules.”

TIME Crime

Pilot Who Landed Gyrocopter at U.S. Capitol Indicted on 6 Charges

Headshot of Doug Hughes, the Florida mailman who intended to deliver letters of protest to Congress by flying a small gyrocopter through the no-fly zone in Washington D.C.
James Borchuck—AP Headshot of Doug Hughes, the Florida mailman who intended to deliver letters of protest to Congress by flying a small gyrocopter through the no-fly zone in Washington D.C.

Douglas Hughes could serve up to 9 1/2 years in prison

(WASHINGTON) — A Florida man who piloted a gyrocopter through miles of America’s most restricted airspace before landing at the U.S. Capitol is now facing charges that carry up to 9½ years in prison.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia said Wednesday in a statement that a grand jury has indicted Douglas Hughes on six charges. He is scheduled to appear Thursday in federal court in Washington.

Hughes, who took off from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was arrested April 15 after he landed on the Capitol’s West Lawn. Hughes has said his flight was intended to call attention to the influence of big money in politics. The stunt also led to a congressional hearing and exposed a gap in ensuring the safety of buildings in the city.

TIME North Korea

U.N. Chief Says North Korea Withdraws Invitation to Visit

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during the 'UN Global Compact - Korea Leaders Summit' event in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 19, 2015.
Yun Dong-jin—AP U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during the U.N. Global Compact: Korea Leaders SummiT event in Seoul on May 19, 2015

Because of North Korea's continuation of missile and other weapon tests relations on the peninsula remain strained

(SEOUL) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that North Korea had withdrawn an invitation to visit a factory park in the country, a day after he announced he would travel to the last major cooperation project between the rival Koreas.

Ban said Wednesday he wanted to go the Kaesong industrial park just north of the heavily fortified Korean border on Thursday as part of an effort to help improve ties between North and South Korea, which jointly run the park.

He would have been the first U.N. chief to visit the factory park, which opened in 2004 in the city of Kaesong. He would also have been the first head of the U.N. to visit North Korea since Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1993.

Ban told a forum on Wednesday that North gave no reason when it informed the U.N. of its decision to cancel his trip.

“This decision by Pyongyang is deeply regrettable,” Ban said, adding he will spare no effort to encourage the North to work with the international community for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

Ban’s cancelled trip comes as relations between the Koreas remain strained following the North’s continuation of missile and other weapon tests that South Korea views as provocations. There are also worries about North Korea after South Korea’s spy agency said last week that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had his defense chief executed by anti-aircraft gun fire in late April.

Analysts had said Ban’s trip won’t likely bring any major breakthrough in ties between the two Koreas.

The park opened during a period of warming ties between the Koreas and has been considered a test case for unification, pairing cheap local labor with South Korean know-how and technology.

It has survived periods of animosity, including the North’s artillery bombardment of a South Korean island in 2010, while other cross-border projects, such as tours to a scenic North Korean mountain, remain deadlocked.

In 2013, however, the park’s operations were halted for five months after North Korea withdrew its 53,000 workers amid tension over the North’s torrent of threats to launch nuclear attacks on Seoul and Washington.

The complex is a rare, legitimate source of foreign currency for the impoverished North.

The Korean Peninsula remains in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

TIME Middle East

These 5 Facts Explain the Troubled U.S.-Arab Relationship

Obama Hosts Gulf Cooperation Council Summit at Camp David
Kevin Dietsch—AP Obama encourages Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to make a statement alongside Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, following the Gulf Cooperation Council-U.S. summit at Camp David on May 14, 2015.

A summit in Camp David shows the growing gap between the U.S. and its Arab allies, thanks to changing oil politics and aging leaders

President Barack Obama just concluded a two day summit with America’s Arab allies. The meeting wrapped up a rocky week that started when Saudi Arabia’s King Salman publicly withdrew from the summit and sent his son and his young nephew in his place. These 5 stats explain the tense relationship between the U.S. and its Persian Gulf allies, and the challenges those alliances will face going forward.

1. It’s the Oil, Stupid.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia comprise the grouping of monarchies in the Persian Gulf known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). They are all major oil producers, with Saudi Arabia the heavyweight of the lot. Together they account for 24% of the world’s crude oil production. But after decades of critical dependence on their oil, America, thanks largely to the mid-2000s shale boom, has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia to lead the world in oil production. The GCC has felt this acutely—Saudi Arabia saw its oil exports to the US plummet 23.74% between 2008 and 2014. The Saudis are not content to take this lying down. Riyadh is busy ramping up its own production (achieving a record high of 10.3 million barrels per day this past April) in an effort to drive down oil and price more expensive U.S. shale producers out of the global market.

(Middle East Monitor, Bloomberg, Energy Information Administration, Financial Times)

2. The Paradox of Plenty

While Saudis are increasing production largely to strengthen their long-term market position, the gambit poses significant short-term risks. Oil prices had already been tumbling for months, and the price of oil directly affects economies like that are heavily reliant upon the commodity. 45% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP comes directly from oil and gas, 40% of the UAE’s, and around 50-60% each for Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. By keeping production high, Saudi Arabia is helping to keep oil prices low.

Economists often talk about the “resource curse,” when a country’s abundance of natural resources stunts the rest of its economy. In a healthy and balanced economy, the private sector should drive research, development and innovation. But only 20% of Bahraini nationals work in the private sector. The rest of the GCC are worse: a pitiful 0.5% of UAE nationals have the misfortune of private employment. The GCC countries have relied so long on oil that their workforces can’t compete in a globalized world. The ruling powers are keenly aware of this fact.

(Forbes, OPEC – UAE, OPEC – Qatar, OPEC – Kuwait, EIA, Al Jazeera)

3. Arab Spring, Still Blooming?

The GCC countries had a front-row seat to the Arab Spring. Beginning in 2011, countries throughout the Arab World erupted in demonstrations and protests, even bleeding into Bahrain and Kuwait. One of the main drivers of the movement was mass unemployment, which afflicts the affluent GCC as well. Ernst & Young estimates that unaddressed unemployment of youths aged 20-24 could eventually reach 40% across GCC member states. Those are numbers ripe for revolution.

The only thing scarier than the uprisings to the Gulf monarchs must have been the U.S. response to them. For years the understanding was that so long as the Gulf countries would keep the world market flush with oil, the U.S. would provide them with protection. Egypt had a variation of this type of relationship with Washington, but Obama wasted little time in throwing Hosni Mubarak under the bus in 2011—at least as the GCC see it. If Egypt could be sacrificed at the altar of democracy, why couldn’t Saudi Arabia be next?

(Bloomberg, Ernst & Young)

4. The Threat of Iran

Looming over the GCC Summit is America’s reengagement with Iran. Washington’s greatest leverage over Tehran is the possibility of lifting sanctions in exchange for a nuclear deal. Experts estimate that Iran’s economy could grow anywhere from 2% to 5% in the first year after lifting sanctions, and then 7-8% the following 18 months. Those are rates on par with the remarkable growth of the ‘Asian Tigers’ in the 1990s.

It’s not just the additional economic competition that worries the GCC. Saudi Arabia has spent the better part of the last decade combatting Iran’s influence across Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, even Bahrain—the end of sanctions would give Tehran additional financing to escalate the regional rivalry. Further destabilizing the region are serious threats posed by groups like ISIS. This is why the GCC sought a formal, Japan-style security alliance with the U.S. The leaders who showed up in Washington couldn’t get the pact they wanted—a treaty requiring Congressional approval is a nonstarter—but they did get assurances of America’s continued military support and significant arms sales.

(Financial Times, Vox, Reuters, Economist)

5. Age Matters

The absence of the Saudi king, along with his counterparts from the UAE, Bahrain and Oman, sent the message that the status quo in the Middle East cannot continue. Their snub of Obama was intended to project an image of strength in the region. But the reality is that the oil-dependent GCC countries have serious structural problems that will take generations to solve. Instead of dealing with four rulers with an average age of 75, Obama sat across from representatives with an average age of 56. This younger generation is poised to lead their countries for decades to come. After 70 years of intense engagement, it is clear that the GCC countries need America as much as ever. The question is how much America needs them.

(Crown Prince Court – UAE, Kingdom of Bahrain (a), Kingdom of Bahrain (b) AlJazeera, Reuters, BBC, Forbes, Al-Monitor, White House )

TIME Transportation

How Smart Traffic Lights Could Transform Your Commute

Using data to make cities run smoother

The traffic signals along Factoria Boulevard in Bellevue, Wash., generally don’t flash the same stretch of green twice in a row, especially at rush hour. At 9:30 a.m., the full red/yellow/green signal cycle might be 140 seconds. By 9:33 a.m, a burst of additional traffic might push it to 145 seconds. Less traffic at 9:37 a.m. could push it down to 135. Just like the traffic itself, the timing of the signals fluctuates.

That’s by design. Bellevue, a fast-growing city of more than 130,000 just east of Seattle, utilizes a system that is gaining popularity around the U.S.: intersection signals that can adjust in real-time to traffic conditions. City officials say that these lights, known as adaptive signals, have led to significant declines in both the hassle and cost of commuting.

“Adaptive signals make sure that inefficiencies never happen,” says Alex Stevanovic, director of the Laboratory for Adaptive Traffic Operations & Management at Florida Atlantic University. “They can make sure that the traffic demand that is there is being addressed.”

As city leaders increasingly turn to data for insight into running their metros more efficiently, adaptive signals have emerged as a 21st century strategy to chip away at a longstanding scourge. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 11 million Americans commute more than an hour each way to their job while 600,000 U.S. residents have one-way “megacommutes” of at least 90 minutes or 50 miles.

And all that time on the roads costs money. The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that U.S. commuters lost $124 billion in 2013 due to the cost of fuel, the value of time wasted in traffic, and the increased cost of doing business. CEBR predicts those costs will rise 50% by 2030.

Only 3% of the nation’s traffic signals are currently adaptive, but the number of smart signals in the U.S. has jumped from 4,500 in 2009 to 6,500 in 2014, according to Stevanovic, who tracks the signals’ installation around the U.S.

The largest concentration of adaptive signals is in Los Angeles, a city that has long struggled with congestion. Nearby Orange County, Calif. has the second largest, followed by Utah, where about 80% of the state’s traffic signals are adaptive. But the frontier of adaptive traffic management may be in Bellevue, according to transportation policy experts. The city’s overhaul began in 2010 when it began implementing a system called SCATS (Sydney Coordinative Adaptive Traffic System, which was first developed and used in Sydney, Australia). Currently, 174 of Bellevue’s intersections have been outfitted with the new technology with plans for all 197 intersections to use adaptive signals by the end of the year.

The system uses a series of wires embedded in city streets that tell the signals how much traffic is moving through the intersection. When traffic is heavier, the green lights stay on longer. Less traffic means shorter greens. During peak traffic periods, nearby intersections sync their lights to allow long stretches of green. When there are fewer cars on the road, those intersections revert to their own cycles. Mark Poch, the Bellevue Transportation Department’s traffic engineering manager, says uncoupled intersections work more efficiently when there are fewer cars on the road because they can better respond to specific situations at that cross street.

Along Factoria, one of Bellevue’s main downtown arteries, travel times have decreased by 36% during peak rush hour since adaptive lights were installed, according to city transportation officials. Along NE 8th Street, another heavily trafficked street, travel times are down 43% from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Those decreased delays appear to add up to real savings for drivers: Bellevue officials say the $5.5 million system saves drivers $9 million to $12 million annually (they estimate that a driver’s time is worth $15 an hour).

For all of Bellevue’s success, adaptive signals are not a panacea for clogged roadways. Kevin Balke, a research engineer at the Texas A&M University Transportation Institute, says that while smart lights can be particularly beneficial for some cities, others are so congested that only a drastic reduction in the number of cars on the road will make a meaningful difference. “It’s not going to fix everything, but adaptive has some benefits for a smaller city with a particular corridor on the verge of breaking down,” he says.

In Bellevue, the switch to adaptive has been a lesson in the value of embracing new approaches. In the past, Poch says, there was often a knee-jerk reaction to dealing with increased traffic: just widen the lanes. Now he hopes that other cities will consider making their streets run smarter instead of just making them bigger.

“It’s been a slow change,” Poch says. “It’s easy to think the way to get out of it is to widen the road. However, as we move toward being better stewards of our resources and more sensitive to environmental issues, let’s take what we have and operate it better. I think that’s a more prevailing thought now, and I think it makes sense.”

TIME Crime

See Freddie Gray Protests Spread Across the Nation

Demonstrations inspired by those in Baltimore spread to more than 7 major U.S. cities on Wednesday, including New York, Boston, and Chicago. While the protests were mostly peaceful, there were at least 25 arrests nationwide

TIME Natural Disasters

143 Million Americans Are Now Living in Earthquake Zones, Scientists Say

A youngster walks past a parking structure that collapsed during Sunday's 6.0 earthquake in Napa, California August 25, 2014
Robert Galbraith—Reuters A youngster walks past a parking structure that collapsed during Sunday's 6.0 earthquake in Napa, California August 25, 2014

Nearly 20,000 schools may be exposed to ground shaking

Some 143 million Americans in the Lower 48 states are at risk of experiencing an earthquake — with 28 million being in danger of “strong shaking,” scientists claimed on Wednesday.

In a press release, researchers attributed the record numbers to both population migration, with ever more people moving to earthquake hot-zones on the West Coast, and a “change in hazard assessments.”

The data nearly doubles the 1994 FEMA estimation of 75 million Americans who could potentially experience tremors during their lifetime, according to a collaborative study from researchers at the United States Geological Survey, FEMA and the California Geological Survey.

The new report also calculated the potential financial loss from damages to buildings like schools, hospitals and fire stations. They said the average long-term cost is $4.5 billion per year with 80% of total being concentrated in California, Oregon and Washington.

“While the West Coast may carry the larger burden of potential losses and the greatest threat from the strongest shaking, this report shows that the threat from earthquakes is widespread,” said Kishor Jaiswal, the researcher who presented the findings.

Researchers identified 6,000 fire stations, 800 hospitals and nearly 20,000 schools throughout the Lower 48 they deemed “may be exposed to strong ground motion from earthquakes.”

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