TIME Congress

Senator Says Male Colleague Told Her ‘You’re Even Pretty When You’re Fat’

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY attends a press conference calling for the creation of an independent military justice system to deal with sexual harassment and assault in the military, in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Feb. 6, 2014.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY attends a press conference calling for the creation of an independent military justice system to deal with sexual harassment and assault in the military, in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Feb. 6, 2014. Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images

"Good thing you're working out because you wouldn't want to get porky," Kirsten Gillibrand recalls one fellow senator saying

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) says in a new book that she has faced several sexist encounters with her male colleagues, being nicknamed everything from “Honey Badger” to “hottest member of the Senate.”

“Good thing you’re working out because you wouldn’t want to get porky,” Gillibrand says one colleague told her in the congressional gym, according to an excerpt of her book Off The Sidelines published by People.

After she lost weight following a pregnancy, Gillibrand writes that one male colleague squeezed her waist and implored: “Don’t lose too much weight now, I like my girls chubby.”

And she says one southern congressman told her, “You know, Kirsten, you’re even pretty when you’re fat.”

“I believed his intentions were sweet, even if he was being an idiot,” Gillibrand writes.

But Gillibrand told People she hasn’t been fazed by these incidents, and said she’s using the sexism she’s faced working in Congress as motivation to take on issues like military and campus sexual assault. In the book, which is being released in September, she calls on other women to “speak up, gather strength” and “support one another.”

“If we do, women will sit at every table of power making decisions,” Gillibrand writes.

The first-term senator also told People she isn’t deterred by the gridlock plaguing Congress.

“If I can work an issue like sexual assault on college campuses and drive a national narrative and know I’m making a difference,” Gillibrand said, “then whether or not we pass another bill in Congress, there’s still good things I can do.”

Read the rest of the story at People

TIME Crime

COPS Crewmember Dies After Being Shot By Police During Robbery

Bryce Dion, 38, died Wednesday following a shootout in an Omaha Wendy's late Tuesday

A crewmember working for the television show COPS was killed Wednesday after being shot by police responding to an armed robbery at an Omaha, Nebraska fast food restaurant.

Officers called to the Tuesday night theft fired over 30 shots into the Wendy’s restaurant, according to the Omaha World Herald. The robbery suspect, later identified by local officials as Cortez Washington, was reportedly holding an plastic pellet gun which officers mistook for a lethal weapon. Washington, 32, was killed in the shooting, as was Bryce Dion, 38, the COPS crewmember.

At a press conference in Omaha on Wednesday, representatives from Langley Productions, which produces COPS, said Dion was “one of our best guys.” The Langley spokesperson added that Dion was “very talented” and “very dedicated to his job.”

COPS is a long-running show, formerly on Fox and now on Spike, which documents real-world police activities.

[Omaha World Herald]

TIME Crime

Texas Man Acquitted of Charges He Shot the Drunk Driver Who Killed His Sons

David Barajas
David Barajas leaves the courtroom during a break in his murder trial Aug. 20, 2014, in Angleton, Texas. B Pat Sullivan—AP

David Barajas was acquitted Wednesday over charges that he shot and killed a drunk driver who had earlier hit and killed his two sons.

Barajas was on trial for fatally shooting Jose Banda, who drove into Barajas and his 11-and-12-year-old sons while they were pushing a truck that had run out of gas. Barajas survived the incident, but his two young boys were killed. The prosecutors in the case said Barajas went home to get a gun and returned to shoot and kill Banda, the Associated Press reports.

The case was complicated, as there were no witnesses of the shooting, the murder weapon was never recovered, and gun shot residue tests on Barajas came back negative. However, ammunition and a holster for the type of gun that killed Banda were found in Barajas’ home.

The defense, however, argued that there was not enough evidence to tie Barajas to the crime. Barajas may have also had jury sympathy, since he had support from the community in his Houston-area city of Alvin.

According to the AP, both Barajas and his wife cried when the verdict was read.

[AP]

TIME Military

Pilot Still Missing After Fighter Jet Crashes in Virginia

Preparations Ahead Of The Farnborough International Airshow 2014
Military personnel talk as they stand beside an F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet, left, prior to the opening of the Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, U.K., on Sunday, July 13, 2014. Bloomberg — Getty Images

Authorities have not yet confirmed if the pilot had ejected from the plane before it crashed Wednesday morning

The pilot of a fighter jet that crashed into the mountains of western Virginia Wednesday morning is still missing hours later, officials say.

Col. James Keefe, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Air National Guard, said that rescue crews were still searching for the pilot Wednesday afternoon, the Associated Press reports. It’s unclear whether the pilot ejected from the single-seat F-15C. The pilot reported an inflight emergency while flying the plane to New Orleans for routine maintenance and lost radio contact shortly thereafter.

Residents near the crash site reported hearing a loud explosion and feeling the ground shake from the force of the impact.

[AP]

TIME Drugs

The Government Wants to Buy 12 Acres of Marijuana—For Research

Marijuana Pot Weed Farm Growers
Jordan Stanley and others prune hemp plants growing on their family'’s farm outside Wray, Colo., on July 31, 2014. Matthew Staver—The New York Times/Redux

The NIH is looking for pot farmers

Calling all pot farmers: Uncle Sam is looking to buy.

An arm of the National Institutes of Health dedicated to researching drug abuse and addiction “intends” to solicit proposals from those who can “harvest, process, analyze, store and distribute” cannabis, according to a listing posted Tuesday night on a federal government website.

A successful bidder must possess a “secure and video monitored outdoor facility” capable of growing and processing 12 acres of marijuana, a 1,000 square foot (minimum) greenhouse to test the plants under controlled conditions, and “demonstrate the availability” of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Food and Drug Administration-approved vault to maintain between 400 and 700 kilograms of pot stock, extract and cigarettes.

Back-up plans in case of emergency required.

The NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse is looking for growers who have the capability to develop plants with altered versions of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the main psychoactive component of pot—and cannabidiol (CBD), which is known for its medicinal properties. NIDA “anticipates” awarding a one-year contract with four one-year options, according to the posting. The vendor would also have to register with the DEA to research, manufacture and distribute cannabis.

NIDA spokeswoman Shirley Simson said the the agency was simply starting a new bidding competition since its existing marijuana farm contract is set to expire next year. The original solicitation for that contract was issued in 2009.

There are 18 states that have decriminalized pot, 23 states with laws allowing access to medical marijuana, and two states—Colorado and Washington—that have legalized the drug for recreational purposes. Federal law still classifies marijuana as a drug on par with heroin, acid and ecstasy.

-Additional reporting by Mark Thompson

TIME Laws

Why It’s Legal for a 9-Year-Old to Fire an Uzi

Gun Show Held At Pima County Fairgrounds
People shoot their guns at the Southwest Regional Park shooting range near the Crossroads of the West Gun Show at the Pima County Fairgrounds in Tucson, Ariz. Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images

Questions after the death of a shooting instructor

The deadly shooting in which a nine-year-old girl accidentally killed her firing range instructor with an Uzi on Monday is the kind of incident that seems almost inconceivable. How can someone so young be allowed to fire such a high-powered weapon? The answer: Because she was accompanied by an adult.

“I think you’ll find that state laws provide for those under a certain age, usually 18, to shoot when under adult supervision or instruction,” says Michael Bazinet, a spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “Youth shooting sports are generally extremely safe activities, enjoyed by millions of Americans.”

Bazinet says he knows of no federal legislation that restricts minors from shooting range activities, leaving it up to the states and the ranges themselves to determine who’s too young to shoot.

Bullets and Burgers, a shooting range in the Arizona’s Mojave Desert where the incident took place Monday morning, allows children as young as eight to shoot as long as they’re accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Under Arizona law, minors as young as 14 can shoot at a range without adult supervision.

The fatal shooting occurred about 10 a.m. Monday morning when Charles Vacca, a 39-year-old firearms instructor, was demonstrating how to fire the gun. The nine-year-old, whose name hasn’t been released but was accompanied by her parents, can be seen taking an initial shot in a video released by authorities. Vacca then appears to switch the gun to automatic. The video shows the gun recoiling as it points toward Vacca, who was shot in the head according to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office. (That portion is not seen in the video.)

Vacca was pronounced dead Monday evening.

Below is the video released by police, and while it does not depict the moment of the shooting, it may still be disturbing to some viewers; caution is advised.

TIME Aviation

Sheriff’s Office: Military Jet Crashes in Virginia

(DEERFIELD, Va.) — A sheriff’s dispatcher says authorities are searching for a military jet that crashed in western Virginia.

Augusta County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher Becky Coynter says witnesses reported hearing a loud noise that sounded like an explosion just before 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Coynter says authorities don’t know whether anyone was injured in the crash.

A news release from state police says officials located the crash site, with heavy smoke coming from the side of a mountain. The statement says state and local police are trying to reach the site. Police did not offer other details.

TIME Education

Gov. Bobby Jindal Sues Federal Government Over Common Core ‘Coercion’

Leading Conservatives Gather For Republican Leadership Conference In New Orleans
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 29, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

The Louisiana governor accused federal officials of forcing states into a national curriculum

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has filed suit against the Department of Education over federal educational standards that he says are intended to “coerce” states into adopting federal guidelines.

According to the filing submitted to a Louisiana district court on Wednesday, Jindal charges the Department of Education with violating the 10th amendment by requiring states to participate in a consortium to help implement Common Core standards or risk losing federal funding.

The Common Core standards, which were released in 2010, are benchmarks for proficiency in English and math. The Obama administration urged states to sign up to Common Core, saying states using the standards would be more likely to win Race to the Top grants. Forty-four states have adopted them, but some have chosen to withdraw from the standards in the belief that they represent a step towards a federal takeover of education.

“Through regulatory and rule making authority, Defendants have constructed a scheme that effectively forces States down a path toward a national curriculum,” the suit alleges.

Jindal has been a vocal opponent of the Common Core standards, a bipartisan initiative which has gathered critics on the left and the right. He sought to remove Louisiana from the initiative in June, despite its backing from state legislators and the state’s Board of Education.

TIME Congress

Dennis Kucinich Is Going to Burning Man

85th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
Dennis Kucinich Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images

Things in the Black Rock Desert are really gonna heat up this week

Former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich is headed to Burning Man.

The former Democratic Representative from Ohio and two-time presidential candidate announced Thursday on Twitter that he plans to speak at the famed celebration of self-expression, community and the arts. He’ll be joined by a wide range of speakers, including conservative political advocate Grover Norquist.

Burning Man takes place in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada every year for one week and always ends with the dispersal of camp and destruction of any evidence of it existed. So, might not be that odd a place for a politician after all.

TIME Crime

Ferguson Wrestles With What to Do Next

Michael Brown Sr, yells out as his son's  casket is lowered into the ground at St. Peter's Cemetery in St. Louis
Michael Brown Sr., center, yells out as his son's casket is lowered into the ground at St. Peter's Cemetery in St. Louis on Aug. 25, 2014 Richard Perry—Pool/Reuters

The town is trying to figure out how to turn a tragic moment into a lasting movement

The funeral was choreographed to the smallest detail, from the celebrities sprinkled through the church to the Cardinals cap laid atop the black-and-gold casket. A massive crowd filed past the television cameras and into the jam-packed sanctuary or the overflow rooms live-streaming the service. The ceremony was billed as a celebration of Brown’s life, which ended Aug. 9 in a hail of bullets fired by a white policeman, and the crowd heard upbeat gospel music, stirring sermons and a eulogy from the Rev. Al Sharpton. But it was also an opportunity to send a message to his mourners. “We are required,” Sharpton told them in his peroration, “to leave here today and change things.”

For the residents of Ferguson, Mo., Brown’s funeral on Monday closed one chapter and opened a new period of uncertainty. The worst of the violence appears over, and the protests are beginning to subside. Soon the television cameras will get packed up, leaving a town that has become the latest shorthand for America’s racial divide to figure out how to translate the energy, intensity and anger of the past two weeks into concrete change.

The problem is that nobody is quite sure how to do it — or what that change would even look like. The shooting of an unarmed, 18-year-old black man at the hands of a white Ferguson policeman opened all sorts of wounds that have festered for generations. Of the thousands who have tromped up and down West Florissant Avenue since Brown’s death, there are nearly as many diagnoses about what Ferguson needs now.

To some, the answer is erasing the pattern of improper police behavior that has plagued this St. Louis suburb. To others, it is addressing income inequality or struggling schools. Still more cite the need to regain lost jobs, or repair the ruptured trust between the community and the people sworn to protect it. Then there is the glaring lack of African-American political representation: Ferguson is a city that is two-thirds black, run by a white mayor and nearly all-white city council.

“This is Jim Crow country,” says Garrett Duncan, a professor of education and African-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis. “You still have a predominantly white and affluent population voting for who runs North County,” the collection of townships like Ferguson north of St. Louis.

Ferguson’s protesters are united on one point: they want justice, in the form of an indictment for Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Brown at least six times just after noon on Aug. 9. (A new audio recording, provided to CNN by an unidentified resident, who alleges he inadvertently captured the incident on tape, purports to show that Brown was killed in two distinct bursts of gunfire separated by a pause. CNN says it cannot authenticate the tape.) But an indictment will be slow, if it comes at all. Robert McCulloch, the lead prosecuting attorney in the case, has estimated he won’t finish presenting evidence to a grand jury until about mid-October. Issues can flare and fade in a blink. If the courtroom lag diverts attention from the systemic problems that led to Brown’s shooting, the community could lose the momentum it has gathered.

To Larry Jones, bishop of the Greater Grace Church in Ferguson, the solution is to reach out to a generation of young, black men who don’t believe the system is geared to represent them. Part of that, he says, is to form mentorship programs that help blacks prepare to enter the workforce and to cope with episodes of police targeting. But another part is improving civic participation. “We have forgotten the power we’ve been given to go to the polls and cast our vote,” says Jones. “It’s those local elections that really affect our lives. We do have a voice, and we need to use it.”

In 2013 municipal elections, just 6% of African Americans turned out to vote. The figures are so low, in part, because the elections were held in the spring of an off-year. But that doesn’t explain the racial gap: whites, who comprise just one-third of the city’s population, were three times more likely to vote. A number of groups are trying to improve African-American participation. The organization HealSTL, launched in the wake of the shooting, leased office space in town as part of its bid to “turn a moment into a movement.” Other organizations have also erected voter-registration booths alongside the protests.

Another challenge will be fixing the issues with local police, which range from widespread reports of bias to the heavy-handed crackdown on the protests. Chris Koster, Missouri’s attorney general, has announced workshops this autumn designed to diversify the state’s urban police forces. (Ferguson, whose force is 94% white, is hardly the only township with an unrepresentative police department.) Democratic Congressmen Emanuel Cleaver and William Lacy Clay, both of Missouri, met last week with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to air their concerns about the “militarization” of area police, who responded to the protests with tear gas, rubber bullets and armored tanks. “If there is any good that can come out of the tragedy in Ferguson,” they wrote in a statement on the meeting, “our hope is that this effort will spur a national discussion about how to achieve a fundamental shift in local law enforcement, away from military-style responses, and towards a more community-based policy.”

Other residents hope that the exhale following the funeral will allow them to rebuild the city’s reputation. Ferguson has become a byword for racial strife and civic unrest, but it is more complex than a single stretch of heavily photographed road. Other sections of town bear the ubiquitous signs of urban reinvention: a downtown strip dotted with a wine bar and refurbished loft apartments, a farmers’ market, community gardens. In 2010, a 30-person delegation even traveled to Kansas City, Mo., to compete for an All-America City Award, for which the city was a finalist.

“For the most part, we get along,” says Brian Fletcher, a former Ferguson mayor who is one of the founders of a group called I Love Ferguson. The committee has passed out more than 8,000 signs bearing that credo, which dot leafy yards in the more affluent neighborhoods and line some of the city’s streets. It hopes to raise money to repay the businesses that suffered in the looting, and maybe even enough to incentivize others to move in. “The image that we’ve received is a city in chaos. We don’t ignore the fact that there’s racial tension and segregation,” says Fletcher, who is white. “We have chosen to stay here. We’re not leaving. It is an amazing community.”

The community has done some amazing things since Brown’s death, from the volunteer peacekeepers who soothed tensions between protesters and police to the residents who showed up each day with crates of bottled water and trays of food, paid for out of their own pockets. Now the challenge, as Sharpton told the mourners at the funeral, is to “turn the chants into change.” But marching orders are much more easily given from the pulpit than carried out on the street. It is up to Ferguson to figure out whether it will be known for a shooting or the healing that followed. “How we responded to the tragedy,” says Fletcher, “will become the real legacy.”

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