TIME energy

Greenpeace Protestors Dangle Off Bridge to Stop Oil Ship From Leaving Portland

Arctic Offshore Drilling
Don Ryan—AP Activists unfurl colored banners while hanging from the St. Johns bridge in Portland on July 29, 2015, to protest the departure of Royal Dutch Shell PLC icebreaker Fennica.

13 people are dangling off the bridge and preventing the Shell exploration ship from leaving

Greenpeace activists swung off Portland, Ore.’s St. Johns Bridge on Wednesday in an attempt to stop a Shell Oil Arctic icebreaker from leaving the city.

Thirteen protestors rappelled off the city’s tallest bridge, with 13 others remaining on the bridge as lookouts, according to the Associated Press.

The activists are equipped with food and water for days and are capable of hoisting themselves up to allow other ships to pass, said Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA.

The Royal Dutch Shell PLC icebreaker Fennica arrived in Portland last week for repairs after being damaged earlier this month in the Aleutian Islands when it hit an underwater obstruction, causing its hull to rip apart. Fennica is an important part of Shell’s exploration fleet of ships and spill-response team off the Alaskan northwest coast.

The activists are worried that the area Fennica is going to go to will block cleanup efforts should a spill occur. They had hoped the Obama administration would have rejected permit requests from Shell to drill in the Chukchi Sea. Instead, the administration gave Shell the go-ahead to begin limited exploration of oil drilling sites.

The bridge danglers hope the delay will kill the amount of time Shell will have to explore the Alaskan coast, as the summer season is winding down. They’re also hoping the government might reconsider its approval of the plan.

“These climbers hanging on the bridge really are at this point the last thing standing between Shell’s plan to drill in the Arctic and the Arctic,” Leonard said.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that combined Arctic offshore reserves in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas amount to about 26 billion barrels of oil.

TIME Virginia

U.Va. Grads Sue Rolling Stone Over Retracted Rape Article

The article was retracted in April

(RICHMOND, Va.) — Court documents show that three University of Virginia graduates and members of a fraternity profiled in a debunked account of a gang rape in a retracted Rolling Stone magazine story are suing the publication and the article’s author.

The three graduates filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New York. They are also suing Rolling Stone’s publisher, Wenner Media.

A lawyer for the men said they suffered “vicious and hurtful attacks” because of the inaccuracies in the November 2014 article, which was written by journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

A top U.Va. official dealing with sexual assaults at the Charlottesville school is also suing the school.

Rolling Stone and the author couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

 

TIME Louisiana

Mom Throws Epic Party for Toddler Obsessed With a Personal Injury Lawyer

He's obsessed with New Orleans' Morris Bart

Most kiddie birthday parties feature superheroes, princesses, the latest children’s movie characters, but when L’erin Dobra threw her two-year-old son Grayson wha party, she featured a different sort of character: New Orleans personal injury lawyer Morris Bart.

“He’s always been very drawn to Morris Bart commercials,” she told the Wall Street Journal‘s Law Blog. “He used to watch ABC and color videos, and he used to love those. But now he wants to watch Morris Bart commercials.”

A fixture for his New Orleans-area television spots, Bart’s signature “One Call, That’s All!” tagline is accompanied by soothing background music.

Grayson’s January birthday party featured a cake frosted with a photo of Bart and a cardboard cutout of the personal injury lawyer.

Bart did not come to the party but did send along an autographed photo, key chains bearing his likeness, and a New Orleans Pelicans shirt with his company logo.

“He might be a future lawyer,” Bart told the Law Blog. “That could be a future competitor of mine many years down the road.”

TIME Education

The University of Phoenix Is Under Federal Investigation

The main building of the University of Phoenix, part of Apollo Group Inc., is seen in Phoenix on Oct. 14, 2010.
Joshua Lott—Bloomberg/Getty Images The main building of the University of Phoenix, part of Apollo Group Inc., is seen in Phoenix on Oct. 14, 2010.

The online college is under scrutiny for possible deceptive or unfair business practices

WASHINGTON — The University of Phoenix, an online college popular among military veterans, is under federal investigation for possible deceptive or unfair business practices, its parent company the Apollo Education Group announced Wednesday.

The for-profit, publicly traded company is the largest recipient of federal student aid for veterans and often a sponsor at military education and employment events. Since 2009 when the GI bill expanded student aid benefits for veterans, the University of Phoenix has taken in more than $488 million in tuition and fees — a figure that dwarfs nearly every other institution identified as a GI recipient by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company told shareholders that it received a “civil investigative demand” from the Federal Trade Commission this week. According to the document, investigators asked for information on a “broad spectrum” of matters, including marketing, recruiting, enrollment, financial aid, tuition, academic programs, billing and debt collection, as well other facets of the business. The filing lists “military recruitment” as one of the areas the FTC is examining.

The filing said Apollo is “evaluating the demand and intends to cooperate fully with the FTC.”

Apollo and the FTC declined to comment further.

The FTC probe is the latest of many state and federal investigations into the for-profit college industry. Critics say many of these colleges are aggressive in recruiting students who qualify for large amounts of federal student aid, including GI money. The credits often don’t transfer to other schools and aren’t recognized by employers.

Industry officials say they are unfairly being scrutinized, and say for-profit schools have expanded education opportunities to communities who wouldn’t otherwise have access.

On July 1, new federal rules went into effect for any school with a career-training program. Graduates have to be able to earn enough money to repay their student loans, or a school risks losing access to financial aid.

TIME faith

Mormon Church Considers Creating Its Own Version of the Boy Scouts

Faithful Attend Mormon General Conference In Salt Lake City
George Frey—Getty Images The Salt Lake Temple is seen during the 184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Oct. 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Church of Latter Day Saints is unhappy with Monday's decision to allow openly gay and bisexual troop leaders to serve

The Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS)—Mormonism’s central church body—is seriously considering creating “its own international program for boys separate from the Boy Scouts of America,” after the Scouts revoked their ban on openly gay scout leaders this week, church spokesman Eric Hawkins told Religion News Service.

The committee voted unanimously on Monday to overturn the ban, which had been in place for 105 years.

That same day, the Mormon Church released a statement saying it was “deeply troubled” by the decision and was going to “re-evaluate” its relationship with the Boy Scouts.

With its status as a “global organization with members in 170 countries, the church has long been evaluating the limitations that fully one-half of its youth face where Scouting is not available,” the church said in a press release. “Those worldwide needs combined with this vote by the [Boy Scouts’] National Executive Board will be carefully reviewed by the leaders of the church in the weeks ahead.”

The church and the Boy Scouts have had a long relationship: as of 2010, the church’s troops counted 142,085 Cub Scouts and 205,990 Boy Scouts.

A breakup with the church could have serious financial repercussions for the Boy Scouts, which earns about $10.5 million a year from Mormon-affiliated groups alone, based on a $24 annual registration fee per Scout and leader.

 

TIME States

Search for Missing Florida Teens Stretches Into Sixth Day

Carl Hodges, of Stuart, Fla., right, reads a prayer during a vigil for Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen on July 28, 2015, in Stuart, Fla. The teenagers have been missing since last Friday when they went out on a boat to go fishing from Tequesta, Fla. A search continues for the boys from the Atlantic waters off Daytona Beach, Florida, north through Savannah, Ga.
Lynne Sladky—AP Carl Hodges, of Stuart, Fla., right, reads a prayer during a vigil for Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen on July 28, 2015, in Stuart, Fla. The teenagers have been missing since last Friday when they went out on a boat to go fishing from Tequesta, Fla. A search continues for the boys from the Atlantic waters off Daytona Beach, Florida, north through Savannah, Ga.

Fears grow for Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, both 14

TEQUESTA, Fla. — Crews pushed the limits of an ever-expanding search zone Wednesday for two teens missing at sea and potentially nearing the boundaries of human survival.

The Coast Guard’s relentless hunt for the 14-year-old fishermen, Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, persisted for a sixth day as questions grew over how long it could go. Decision-makers were juggling a mix of “art and science,” Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss said, trying to balance the knowledge of how long people can survive adrift with the unknowns on whether the boys had flotation devices and drinking water and what their physical condition is.

Still, authorities insisted their search would continue throughout the day.

“There’s been a lot of rumors that the search has been suspended. I just want to refute that,” Capt. Mark Fedor said, speaking on the street where both boys live. “The search has not been suspended. It is still active and open.”

Earlier Wednesday, a U.S. official in Washington had said the Coast Guard was suspending the search.

Fedor was part of a Coast Guard contingent that met with the boys’ families for an hour Wednesday afternoon. Afterward, he declined to elaborate on the search or to answer reporters’ questions, but even a day earlier he acknowledged that with each passing hour, the prospects were direr.

The saga of the two boys from Tequesta, Florida, began Friday. Their parents believed their fishing outing would take them to a local river and waterway, as was the rule in previous solo trips, not the deep waters of the Atlantic. A line of summer storms moved through the area that afternoon, and when the teens didn’t return on time, the Coast Guard was alerted and began their day-and-night search.

The Coast Guard has covered a mammoth search area stretching 32,000 square nautical miles, from the waters off South Florida up through South Carolina. It has proven a frustrating ordeal, with no new clues since the teens’ capsized boat was located Sunday. Sightings of floating objects occasionally spurred hope before being found irrelevant.

Dr. Claude Piantadosi, a Duke University medical professor who authored “The Biology of Human Survival: Life and Death in Extreme Environments,” said finding individuals outside of a boat, simply bobbing in the water, is intensely difficult. The former Navy officer said sailors lost at sea might run an orange streamer 30 to 40 feet behind them to aid being located by air.

“Single people in the ocean are the hardest to pick up,” he said.

Piantadosi, an avid boater and diver, has frequently visited the Atlantic waters where the teens disappeared, and says they are remarkably empty expanses, largely free of anything the boys might be able to grab unto.

“There’s just not that much debris out there,” he said. “Occasionally you’ll find a log or buoy, something like that drifting along, but not very often.”

But the lengthening interval since the boys disappeared does not dispel all hope for them.

In 2005, two South Carolina teens were swept out to sea on their small sailboat during a storm. After searching for them for several days, the Coast Guard and state officials searched began referring to their effort as a recovery operation not a rescue.

Yet the teens were found alive after almost a week at sea. A key difference from the Florida teens, though: They were still aboard their boat.

Each year, Florida waters swallow a small number of boaters who venture out and never return. In 2013, when Florida had 56 boating fatalities, it also had nine missing boaters who were never found and are presumed dead, according to the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Last year, there were 64 fatalities and six missing boaters.

The commission could not break down how many of these accidents happened in the ocean, the Gulf of Mexico or on a lake or river.

Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a critical care doctor at the University of Southern California, said the boys’ experience in the open water may be far different from what some might expect.

“They’re usually not going to be found eaten by sharks like some movies would have you believe. They’re going to have fatigue and muscle cramps and dehydration,” he said. “It’s the worst oxymoron in the world: You’re surrounded by water and there’s no water.”

___

Associated Press writer Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington contributed to this report.

TIME Military

Drumbeats of Possible War with Iran Grow Louder

Senate Armed Services Hearing on Iran/JCPOA
Samuel Corum / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images From left, Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and General Martin Dempsey defend the Iran deal at Wednesday’s Senate hearing.

Senate hearing highlights growing skepticism over wisdom of nuclear deal

You could almost see the U.S. and Iran drawing slowly closer to war Wednesday, as dubious lawmakers, including a pair of Republican senators seeking their party’s presidential nomination, grilled top Obama Administration officials over the pending nuclear deal with Tehran.

The reason is pretty simple: there appears to be a growing push among lawmakers, and their constituents, against the recent agreement hammered out by the U.S. and four other nations to restrain Iran’s push toward nuclear weapons (a CNN poll out Tuesday says 52% of Americans oppose the pact).

If the deal falls apart, Administration witnesses warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran would have a fast track toward a nuclear arsenal. If the mullahs try to take advantage of that opening—something expected by U.S. intelligence—all signs suggest the U.S. will go to war to thwart their atomic ambitions.

Language from both the Administration and senators made clear there’s a hair-trigger mentality when it comes to Iran. But how much of that was bluster, designed to win over the other side regarding the deal’s merit, was difficult to plumb. What was clear is how complicated the polarized U.S. debate over the deal has made winning Washington’s approval.

Testifying for the Administration were Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Carter said the Pentagon is “continuing to advance our military capabilities that provide all options…should Iran walk away from its commitments under this deal.” He added, with a bit of martial swagger, that any Iranian aggression would trigger “an overwhelming array of forces into the region, leveraging our most advanced capabilities, married with sophisticated munitions that put no target out of reach.”

Translation: “advance capabilities” means the U.S. Air Force’s B-2 bomber, the only airplane that can carry “sophisticated munitions that put no target out of reach”—the 15-ton Massive Ordnance Penetrator, specifically designed to burrow into Iranian mountains and destroy nuclear-production facilities.

Two of the most startling questions put to the witnesses by deal doubters came from senators seeking the GOP presidential nomination. Opposition to the deal makes them look pro-military and pro-Israel (which opposes the deal), as well as anti-Obama—a political hat trick for those seeking to appeal to Republican primary voters.

Lindsey Graham’s question came like a bolt out of the blue. “Could we win a war with Iran?” the South Carolinian asked Carter. “Who wins the war between us and Iran? Who wins? Do you have any doubt who wins?”

“No,” Carter responded. “The United States wins the war.” Neither he nor Graham explained how the U.S. might win in Iran, after it has failed to win in Afghanistan and Iraq since invading those two nations more than a decade ago.

Top Administration Officials Testify To Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing On Military Balance In Mid East
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images“Could we win a war with Iran?” asks Senator Lindsey Graham, alongside Senator Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz of Texas lobbed an electromagnetic-pulse weapon into the middle of the four-hour hearing. “Do you agree that an EMP detonated by Iran in the atmosphere could kill tens of millions of Americans?” he asked Moniz. EMP weapons have become a bugaboo in certain conservative circles over concern that a high-altitude nuclear explosion over the U.S. could fry much of the nation’s electronics. Moniz conceded an EMP could be “a very potent weapon.”

Much of the session was less about nuclear physics than political theater. Republicans spent much of the session detailing Tehran’s “malign” activities, ranging from sponsoring terrorism to threatening to destroy Israel. The Administration’s witnesses acknowledged Iran’s perfidy. But they argued that the deal, which the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia struck with Iran after years of negotiations, is the surest way to delay, if not derail, Iran’s nuclear quest.

TIME National Security

The Life Awaiting Jonathan Pollard After His Release

The convicted spy has a wife he's never been alone with

While it’s confirmed that Jonathan Pollard will indeed get out of prison on Nov. 20, where he will go from there is not at all clear.

He would be more than welcome in Israel, the country he was convicted of spying for in 1987. But the U.S. Parole Commission, which on Tuesday announced approval of his parole after almost three decades, requires that a parolee remain not only in the United States, but in a specific area, and check in regularly with a parole officer. The terms of Pollard’s release requires him to remain in the United States for a total of five years, and his attorneys say they have already secured him accommodation in New York City.

But Pollard’s lead attorney says he’s hopeful an exception will be made in this case. “I think the parole commission will work out what kind of travel terms are permitted,” Eliot Lauer tells TIME. “We haven’t worked that through with them.”

A hero’s welcome is not all that awaits Pollard in Jerusalem. So does the woman he married in prison, and has never seen alone. Pollard’s first wife, Anne, served three years for her role in the espionage case – he proposed with a ring his Israeli handler had offered in payment then was divorced by Pollard in 1990 after her own parole was completed. Three years later Pollard secretly exchanged vows with Esther Zeitz in Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina. A Canadian, she emigrated to Israel, where they had met during an extended student trip in 1971. She has been an activist for his release, once going on a 19-day hunger strike, but, as the website Jonathanpollard.org plaintively notes, has never been allowed a conjugal visit.

“I can hardly wait,” Esther Pollard said in front of cameras in Jerusalem on Wednesday, after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I am counting the days, the hours, the minutes, the seconds until I can take him into my arms and we can close the door on the past behind us, and begin to heal and to rebuild our lives.” She asked for “a bit of privacy, and..to be able to begin to live like normal people, in a quiet and modest life.”

But the Jonathan Pollard sentenced to life in prison almost 30 years ago was not what some might describe as a normal person. The CIA in its “Damage Assessment” of his case outlined a personal history “replete with incidents of irresponsible behavior that point to significant emotional instability.” For example:

“Although Pollard earned a 3.5 grade point average as a Stanford undergraduate from 1972-76, former student acquaintances told investigators that he bragged about his role as a Mossad agent and, on one occasion, waved a pistol in the air and screamed that everyone was out to get him.”

His activity as a spy was not meager; as a civilian analyst employed by U.S. intelligence, prosecutors said he handed over to Israel enough documents to fill a room six-feet wide, by six-feet deep and 10-feet high. The Naval investigator who led the case wrote that Pollard also gave U.S. secrets to South Africa, and Australia, and made overtures to Pakistan.

But he grew religiously observant in prison, and became an Israeli citizen in 1995. Esther Pollard’s voice cracked as she thanked “this whole beloved, beautiful nation that’s stood with us all these years.” Pollard’s lawyer dismissed the notion that he had “transitioned” from American to Israeli during his three decades of incarceration.

“I wouldn’t say there’s been a ‘quote’ transition,” Lauer said. “He’s American. He’s a patriotic American. He violated American law, and he served 30 years for doing so. And obviously he’s very attached to Israel as well.”

Just how attached will become clear when Pollard walks free in the fall.

TIME animals

Here Are Famous People Posing With Animals They’ve Killed

The recent killing of the beloved Cecil the Lion by Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer has ignited outrage across the world. Game hunting has a long history, and people from all walks of life have long been known to kill large animals, sometimes illegally, and then pose with their bodies. Here are eight well-known people with their kills, stretching back over a century

TIME animals

U.S. Government Investigating Death of Cecil the Lion

The Department of Justice hasn't said whether they've received an extradition request

The federal agency charged with enforcing wildlife protection laws in the U.S. said Wednesday that it will investigate the highly publicized death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, following accusations that an American citizen killed the animal illegally.

“The Service is deeply concerned about the recent killing of Cecil the lion,”a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson said in a statement. “We are currently gathering facts about the issue and will assist Zimbabwe officials in whatever manner requested.”

The statement follows an allegation by the government of Zimbabwe that Walter James Palmer, a 55-year-old Minnesota dentist, participated in the illegal killing of the lion earlier this month. Two Zimbabwe natives have also been implicated and appeared in court on Wednesday.

Read More: Why Big Game Hunters Believe They’re the Real Conservationists

The U.S. and Zimbabwe have an extradition treaty, but it remains unclear how the U.S. would respond to a request to extradite Palmer. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice (DOJ) said that DOJ was “aware of the situation.” The spokesperson declined to say whether the U.S. had received an extradition request.

Palmer, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, previously said that “everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted” and promised to assist any investigations by government officials.

African lions face threats as a result of habitat loss and increased conflicts with humans, among other things. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing lions as an endangered species last year, which would create restrictions on lion hunting by U.S. citizens. The measure has yet to be decided.

“It is up to all of us—not just the people of Africa—to ensure that healthy, wild populations of animals continue to roam the savanna for generations to come,” a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement.

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