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 politics

The Conservative Case for Legalizing Marijuana

William F. Jr. Buckley
Truman Moore—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty William F. Buckley Jr., riding in airplane en route to Washington DC, in 1965

American conservatives haven't always opposed legalizing pot

The United States’ latest skirmish in the battle over marijuana laws is still ongoing and, for lawmakers, it hits close to home. On Thursday, possession of a limited amount of the drug became legal for adult residents of Washington, D.C. — but, thanks to the intervention of a group of Congressmen, there’s still no way to legally buy it or sell it there, which may lead to the development of a “free weed economy.”

The legislative action taken to stop the District from developing a monetary economy for pot has broken down along party lines, with Republican lawmakers against the change in stance toward the drug and Democrats urging the city to go ahead.

It may seem like a natural thing for conservatives to be, well, conservative about changing drug laws — polls have shown that Republicans are much less likely than Democrats to support legalization —but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, there was a time during the 1970s when the nation’s leading conservative voices spoke out on behalf of legalizing marijuana, for many of the same reasons that advocates of legalization cite today.

At that time, in late 1972, a large study from the nonpartisan Consumers Union had just come out, urging legalization, as well as government-supported treatment for addictions to other substances. The report found that it was too late for law enforcement to keep pot from becoming part of American culture — and, surprisingly, its authors weren’t the only ones to think so, as TIME reported that December:

…American conservatives may have arched their eyebrows well above the hairline when they glimpsed the latest issue of William F. Buckley Jr.’s staunchly nonpermissive National Review. There on the cover was the headline: THE TIME HAS COME: ABOLISH THE POT LAWS. Inside, Richard C. Cowan, a charter member of the conservative Young Americans for Freedom, sets forth his arguments that the criminal penalties for marijuana possession and use should be stricken from the books. Cowan contends that pot is comparatively harmless, demonstrably ubiquitous and that the laws against it only alienate the young and breed disrespect for American justice.

The attitude was a shift for Buckley, who in 1971 testified against loosening penalties but wrote in 1972 that he agreed with Cowan. “It seems, in fact, that Buckley has smoked grass himself—but only on his sailboat, outside the three-mile limit,” TIME noted. “His verdict: ‘To tell the truth, marijuana didn’t do a thing for me.'”

See the full story, here in the TIME Vault: Concerning Pot and Man at The National Review

TIME Illinois

Lawmaker Facing Expenses Questions Hires Lawyers, PR Experts

U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock Friday, Feb. 6, 2015 in Peoria, Ill.
Seth Perlman—AP U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock Friday, Feb. 6, 2015 in Peoria, Ill.

Schock is facing an ethics inquiry for his travel and entertainment expenses

(WASHINGTON) — Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock has hired top lawyers and public relations experts in the wake of recent questions surrounding his travel and entertainment expenses.

Schock, a rising Republican star already facing an ethics inquiry, had spent taxpayer and campaign funds on flights aboard private planes owned by some of his key donors, an Associated Press review found. There have also been other expensive charges, including for a massage company and music concerts.

By Tuesday, Schock brought on board Washington attorneys William McGinley and Donald McGahn, a former Federal Election Commission member. Schock also retained GOP communications experts Ron Bonjean and Brian Walsh, according to a person familiar with the changes who was not authorized to speak publicly. Politico first reported the hires Tuesday.

Schock’s expenses, detailed by the AP and other news organizations in recent weeks, highlight the relationships that lawmakers can have with donors who fund their political ambitions. It’s an unwelcome message for Schock, a congressman billed as a fresh face of the Republican party.

The AP’s review identified at least one dozen flights worth more than $40,000 on donors’ planes since mid-2011, tracking Schock’s reliance on the aircraft partly through the congressman’s penchant for uploading pictures and videos of himself to his Instagram account. The AP extracted location data associated with each image then correlated it with flight records showing airport stopovers and expenses later billed for air travel against Schock’s office and campaign records.

Asked to comment Monday, Schock said he travels frequently throughout his Peoria-area district “to stay connected with my constituents” and also travels to raise money for his campaign committee and congressional colleagues. Schock was in Washington Tuesday evening to cast votes on the House floor.

Schock said he takes compliance with congressional funding rules seriously and has begun a review of his office’s procedures “concerning this issue and others to determine whether they can be improved.”

The AP had been seeking comment from Schock’s office since mid-February to explain some of his expenses, but his office would not provide any details about them. The new hires may signal a shift that Schock could begin to respond to those questions publicly.

Schock’s high-flying lifestyle, combined with questions about expenses decorating his office in the style of the TV show “Downton Abbey,” add to awkward perceptions on top of allegations he illegally solicited donations in 2012. The Office of Congressional Ethics said in a 2013 report that there was reason to believe Schock violated House rules by soliciting campaign contributions during a 2012 primary.

Lawmakers can use office funds for private flights as long as payments cover their share of the costs. But most of the flights Schock covered with office funds occurred before the House changed its rules in January 2013. The earlier rules prohibited lawmakers from using those accounts to pay for flights on private aircraft, allowing payments only for federally licensed charter and commercial flights.

Schock also spent thousands more on tickets for concerts and car mileage reimbursements, and took his interns to a sold-out Katy Perry concert in Washington last June.

The AP’s review covered Schock’s travel and entertainment expenses in his taxpayer-funded House account, in his campaign committee and the “GOP Generation Y Fund,” a political action committee. Records show more than $1.5 million in contributions to the fund since he took office in 2009.

Schock’s reliance on donor-owned planes is the most recent example of lawmaker use of donors’ planes for transportation. After Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., took two 2010 flights on a private jet owned by a wealthy eye doctor and major donor, a 2013 ethics investigation prompted his $58,500 personal reimbursement to the donor for the flights. His office noted that Menendez did not use taxpayer funds to pay for the flights.

Records show Schock also requested more than $18,000 in mileage reimbursements since 2013, among the highest in Congress. His office has previously said it was reviewing those expenses.

TIME People

See Hillary Clinton’s Evolution in 20 Photos

From First Lady to Senator to Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton continues to conquer the public spotlight 

TIME weather

Washington Gridlocked Again… By a Snowstorm, Thankfully

It was a blanket of snow that shut down the federal government this time, not a feuding Congress

TIME North Korea

North Korea Threatens Strong Response to D.C. Rights Meeting

North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Jang II Hun, left, is seated between North Korea's mission consulars Kin Song, center, and Kwon Jong Gun, right on Feb. 16, 2015 in New York
Bebeto Matthews—AP North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Jang II Hun, left, is seated between North Korea's mission consulars Kin Song, center, and Kwon Jong Gun, right, in New York on Feb. 16, 2015

North Korea says it will respond "very strongly" to Tuesday's conference in D.C. on its human-rights abuses

(UNITED NATIONS) — North Korea says it will respond “very strongly” to a conference in Washington on Tuesday about its widespread human rights abuses and says the United States ignored Pyongyang’s offer to attend and defend itself. Puzzled conference organizers said the event was open to the public.

North Korea’s U.N. Ambassador Jang Il Hun told reporters Monday his country has asked the U.S. government to “immediately scrap the so-called conference” hosted by the nonprofit Center for Strategic & International Studies. Speakers include Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues.

Victor Cha, Korea chair at CSIS, said he was not sure what Jang was referring to. “We issued no specific invitations to anyone,” he said.

Nuclear-armed North Korea has been on the defensive ever since a groundbreaking U.N. commission of inquiry detailed vast rights abuses there. International pressure behind last year’s report led the U.N. Security Council to place the issue on its agenda of matters of international peace and security.

Jang said he sent a formal request to his counterpart in the State Department and that the counterpart responded that the conference was not a government one. “That means our request was denied,” Jang said.

North Korea and the United States do not have formal diplomatic relations, but Jang is tasked with communicating through the so-called “New York channel” that the country’s U.N. mission uses to reach out to U.S. officials. Jang said his communication to the U.S. was only about the conference.

The U.S. restricts North Korean diplomats to traveling within a 25-mile (40-kilometer) radius of midtown Manhattan, and they must request permission to go farther.

The State Department said the conference was a privately organized event.

North Korea has repeatedly said the U.S. uses the human rights issue as a pretext to overthrow it, and it has started demanding that the U.S. should instead look into the CIA’s “torture crimes.”

The U.N. General Assembly in December approved a resolution that urged the council to refer North Korea’s human rights situation to the International Criminal Court, and the head of the commission of inquiry has written to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warning that he could be held accountable for crimes against humanity.

“We are not guilty of any crime,” Jang said Monday, smiling.

But alarmed by anything targeting their young leader, North Korean diplomats briefly proposed last year that the U.N. high commissioner for human rights could visit their country if the U.N. resolution would drop the language about Kim and the ICC.

Jang on Monday told reporters that the opportunity had passed. “Once it’s gone, we have to start all over again,” he said.

Jang also has said his foreign minister was not allowed to attend a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry and other diplomats about North Korea’s human rights during the U.N. General Assembly of world leaders last fall.

Another organizer of Tuesday’s conference, Greg Scarlatoiu with the Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, said he had not heard from North Korea about it. “I find it encouraging that North Korea is paying attention to a conference commemorating one year since the release of the report, since they’ve been unwilling to accept the commission of inquiry,” he said.

MONEY Holidays

Money Lessons From the Presidents

Lincoln on penny and Washington on Quarter facing one another on black background
Getty Images

Not only are these men on the money, they were pretty good with it too.

Presidents’ Day is a great holiday for learning about American history, but it could be a good day for financial lessons as well. That’s because Washington and Lincoln—the two presidents most closely associated with the holiday—weren’t just great figures. They’re also members of a select group of foundational leaders who were notably savvy money managers.

While Jefferson and Hamilton died deeply in debt, Hamilton so much so that his funeral doubled as a burial fundraiser, Washington and Lincoln are veritable financial role models. Here’s how America’s first president out-invested his political peers, and how the Great Emancipator saved his way to wealth.

Diversify like George

If there was one investing trick Washington mastered, it was diversification.

During the 18th century, Virginia’s landed gentry got rich shipping fine tobacco to European buyers. So rich, in fact, that when the bottom fell out of the market in the 1760s, few plantation owners thought to change their strategy. Thomas Jefferson, a fellow Virginian, famously refused to move away from his longtime investment and went deeper and deeper into debt as tobacco prices plummeted.

George W. wasn’t so foolish. He knew which way the wind was blowing, and decided an overdependence on a single failing asset wasn’t the best business strategy. “Washington was the first to figure out that you had to diversify,” explains Willard Sterne Randall, biographer of multiple founding fathers. “Only Washington figured out that you couldn’t rely on a single crop.”

After determining tobacco to be a poor investment, Washington switched to wheat. He shipped his finest grain overseas and sold the lower quality product to his Virginia neighbors (who, historians believe, used it to feed their slaves). As land lost its value, Washington stopped acquiring new property and started renting out what he owned. He also fished on the Chesapeake and charged local businessmen for the use of his docks.

The president was so focussed on revenues that at times he could even be heartless: When a group of Revolutionary War veterans became delinquent on rent, they found themselves evicted from the Washington estate by their former commander.

Save like Abe

It’s no surprise that someone with Abraham Lincoln’s upbringing would know the value of a dollar. Harold Holzer, an acclaimed Lincoln historian, describes the future president’s poverty as so severe that “until his stepmother arrived on the scene when he was six years old, he didn’t even have a wooden floor.”

From these humble origins, Lincoln emerged as a frugal man who lived on relatively modest means until his entrance into politics. According to Holzer, young Lincoln spent time as a shopkeeper, postmaster, and even considered applying his considerable strength to blacksmithing before finding success in law and politics.

As Lincoln’s fame increased, so did his income. Holzer puts his attorney’s fee at as much as $5,000 per case, and he earned $25,000 per year as president. But despite his newfound wealth, the president was never tempted to overspend. On the contrary, he appears to have become an obsessive saver . “When he died he had several uncashed salary warrants in his desk drawer, and he saved $90,000 in four years, so he didn’t spend a lot,” Holzer says, “and that included sending a child to Harvard and Harvard Law School.”

Unlike many politicians, Lincoln’s frugality extended even to public money. He became furious upon learning that his wife, Mary Todd, had blown her budget on upgrades to the White House, and as David Herbert Donald records in his biography of the president, all but exploded when asked to seek additional funds from Congress. No more money would be approved for “flub dubs for that damned house!” Lincoln roared. “It would would stink in the land,” he explained, to have spent $20,000 on furnishings “when the poor freezing soldiers could not have blankets.”

Read next: Financial Lessons of America’s Founding Fathers

TIME White House

See the Evolution of Michelle Obama in Magazine Covers

From fashion icon as a Vogue cover girl to power symbol on the cover of Ebony, the First Lady has graced the cover of more than 15 American magazines

TIME China

China’s President Xi Jinping Is Planning His First State Visit to the U.S.

Chinese President Xi Jinping waits to welcome French Prime Minister Manuel Valls at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing January 30, 2015.
Fred Dufour—Reuters Chinese President Xi Jinping waits to welcome French Prime Minister Manuel Valls at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Jan. 30, 2015

No dates have been set however

China’s President Xi Jinping is planning his first state visit to the U.S., according to Chinese state media.

The country’s ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, told China Daily that he was discussing the visit with American officials, reports the Associated Press. No date has been set but it would be later this year.

On Friday, President Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Washington had invited Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for state visits.

Xi and Obama last met in Beijing during an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in November.

Recently, China and the U.S. have been working together on a range of issues including a climate-change pledge to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions.

[AP]

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.

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