cities

Chicago To Name High School After President Obama

(CHICAGO) — President Barack Obama’s hometown of Chicago plans to name a high school after him.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday announced plans to build Barack Obama College Preparatory High School. The selective enrollment high school will be open for the 2017-2018 school year. Chicago Public Schools says its enrollment will be 1,200 students.

Emanuel and school officials say Chicago needs more competitive selective enrollment schools. They say nearly 16,500 students applied for 3,200 seats this school year. The Obama school will be the 11th selective enrollment high school in Chicago.

School officials say the Obama school will open with a freshman class of 300 students. Subsequent grade levels will be added in following years.

Chicago Public Schools is the nation’s third-largest school district, with 400,000 students in 658 schools.

First Lady Gets Resume From Girl with Jobless Dad

Michelle Obama, Charlotte Bell
First lady Michelle Obama hugs Charlotte Bell, 10, after she handed Mrs. Obama her dad's resume during the White House's annual "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day," Thursday, April 24, 2014, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Evan Vucci—AP

(WASHINGTON) — Michelle Obama’s annual question-and-answer session with the children of Executive Office employees took a serious turn Thursday when a 10-year-old girl in the front row told the first lady that her dad had been out of work for three years. Then the girl popped up to hand the first lady his resume.

The first lady seemed a little taken aback but then explained to the other children, who might not have heard the girl’s comment, that the matter was “a little private, but she’s doing something for her dad.” Mrs. Obama promised to deal with the matter later.

When the event ended, Mrs. Obama gave the girl, Charlotte Bell, a hug and then reached back to grab the resume off a table as she left the East Room. The first lady played host to the children at the White House on Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

Charlotte’s family had joked over the weekend about making a job pitch to the first lady, but her parents didn’t know she would give it a try, according to her mother, an executive branch employee who did not want to be identified.

Charlotte’s father, Ben Bell, has been looking for a policy job for more than two years and recently has been trying to get a job with the Obama administration. He worked on the Obama campaign in 2012.

History

1812: The War No One Wants to Commemorate

It was a war we won, despite the burning of Washington D.C. by British soldiers in 1814. So why does no one seem to want to celebrate its bicentennial?

Selling the burning of Washington to Washingtonians turns out to be not so easy.

This summer marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Why, one might ask, is a war that began in Canada in 1812 and ended in 1815 in New Orleans being celebrated in Washington D.C. in 2014? “Although it seems rather morbid to celebrate the burning of Washington in the summer of 1814, it was the turning point of the war. It was the force that pushed the American side to really come out and push for the victory that culminated in the battle of New Orleans with Andrew Jackson a few months later,” says Leslie Jones, public programs manager at the National Center for White House History at Decatur House, one of a dozen organizations organizing events marking the anniversary.

But even though the U.S. won it, the War of 1812 seems to be the buck-toothed stepsister of American military victories. Jones and a small battalion of historians and curators are all very eager to talk about the important milestones of America’s second war of independence—Dolly Madison saving George Washington’s portrait from the White House fire; the brave, tiny militia of Washingtonians who tried to defend the city; Francis Scott Key’s ode to the Battle of Fort McHenry, otherwise known as the Star Spangled Banner — but despite their best efforts, there seems to be little interest thus far in marking the bicentennial.

Other historical anniversaries have fared better. The bicentennial of the American Revolution, for example, saw nearly a decade of celebrations that encompassed televised fireworks, concerts, speeches, nautical and ticker tape parades and a yearlong exhibit at the Smithsonian. It was the theme of Superbowl X as well as two American bids for the Olympics. The original planned name for the first space shuttle was Constitution, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the signing of the founding document, but that was before NASA engineers got carried away by Star Trek and switched the name to Enterprise.

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War that started last year saw the Steven Spielberg biopic Lincoln, a spate of books including Rise to Greatness by my colleague David Von Drehle, a History Channel series, an exhibit of Abraham Lincoln’s papers at the Library of Congress and more battle reenactments than can be counted.

Compared to all that, the celebrations for the War of 1812 seem modest indeed. On Flag Day on June 14, the Smithsonian will hold a concert and will display the U.S. flag that inspired Key to pen the nation’s anthem during the war. The annual July 4 Independence Day celebration of the National Mall will be 1812 themed.

But you’ll need to look hard for more events around the nation. Washington, Virginia and Maryland museums and landmarks will hold a “Muster the Militias” open house weekend on July 25-26 featuring free admissions, special tours and family programs. Bladensburg, Md. will unveil a monument commemorating that pivotal battle. Alexandria, Va. will hold a commemorative weekend of events, and the White House Historical Association will hold a half-day symposium entitled “America Under Fire.”

Aug. 24, the actual day of the 200th anniversary of the burning of the Capitol, will be celebrated in Washington with little more than a 5k run at the Historic Congressional Cemetery, a family festival in Georgetown and a beer festival at Yards Park. The only sponsors signed on thus far are the British, Belgian and Canadian Embassies, WAMU radio and On Tap Magazine, who is sponsoring the beer festival. However, there are cool commemorative stamps and coins to collect.

So why the relative lack of enthusiasm about 1812? Maybe because the U.S. is now best friends with the aggressor, Great Britain. But that didn’t seem to generate any awkwardness during the Revolutionary War bicentennial, when Queen Elizabeth was happy to visit to join in the celebrations. More likely, say some historians, it’s simply a lack of awareness.

“This is an area of history that is so not well known by the broader American public,” says Karen Daly, executive director of Dumbarton House, an historic Washington property that is now a museum. “I find when people visit Dumbarton House, an incredible number of Americans don’t even know this event even happened. They tend to jump from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. This area of history is glossed over in our schooling. And yet, this is what gave us our national anthem and it is very much the event that cemented the union and the democracy. It’s an incredible piece of our history.”

So come on America, have some pride for the 1812 War! We actually won this one.

States

The Nevada Ranch Rebellion Takes a Racist Turn

Rancher Cliven Bundy near Bunkerville, Nev., April 18, 2014.
Rancher Cliven Bundy near Bunkerville, Nev., April 18, 2014. Steve Marcus —Reuters

Cliven Bundy's refusal to pay the government to graze his cattle herd on public land was overshadowed by his recent pro-slavery comments

It doesn’t take much to mint an icon in this political climate. Cliven Bundy became one nearly overnight. The story of Bundy’s battle against federal bureaucrats fit neatly into a resonant narrative: the defiant land-owner taking a stand against government overreach.

As word of Bundy’s refusal to pay the federal government to graze his herd on public land spread, more than 1,000 armed sympathizers descended on his Nevada ranch in the desert outside of Las Vegas. When the U.S. Bureau of Land Management abandoned its effort to seize Bundy’s cattle, the rancher, 68, was celebrated as a hero in certain right-wing circles. Supporters compared the Battle of Bunkerville, Nev., to the American Revolution; there was even a hashtag, #AmericanSpring. With his ten-gallon hat and gruff rhetoric, Bundy was an irresistible symbol of a certain frontier ideal.

The reality was much different. Bundy’s herd of cattle has been illegally grazing on federal land for more than 20 years. He owes the government more than $1 million, which he refuses to pay because, he says, he does not recognize federal authority to collect it. While some conservative media outlets rushed to canonize Bundy, the vast majority of elected Republicans steered clear of the standoff, perhaps because the facts suggested Bundy was less a patriot than a deadbeat.

Or worse. Speaking to supporters on Saturday, Bundy digressed into a discussion of race. “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” Bundy said, according to Adam Nagourney of the New York Times:

Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

These remarks will surely dim Bundy’s spotlight. The few national politicians who flocked to his cause have already denounced the remarks. Nevada Senator Dean Heller, who had praised Bundy’s supporters as “patriots,” released a statement Thursday morning calling his views on race “appalling.” Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who said Bundy’s case raised a “legitimate constitutional question” about federal authority, called his remarks offensive. “I wholeheartedly disagree with him,” Paul said.

Conservative media and political outfits which had promoted Bundy’s cause fell silent. Fox News ignored the remarks, though journalist Greta Van Susteren, who has featured the story, released a statement condemning Bundy’s remarks. Americans for Prosperity’s Nevada branch, which also latched onto the ranch rebellion, did not immediately respond to an inquiry from TIME.

Calls to Bundy’s ranch and to a mobile phone belonging to his family went unanswered Thursday. Craig Leff, a spokesman for the BLM, told TIME the agency will “continue to pursue this matter administratively and judicially.” The Battle of Bunkerville is over. Now the backlash has begun.

TIME 100

Restauranteur Alice Waters on The Edible Schoolyard Project

This California Restaurateur is teaching kids across the world about healthy eating.

+ READ ARTICLE

Restauranteur Alice Waters decided after the birth of her daughter that she wanted to improve the way children ate and thought about food.

Waters teamed up with Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley, Calif. and the Edible Schoolyard Project was born.

“I felt like I was an activist from the very beginning,” Waters said. “I felt like I could change the world, if we all changed the way we ate.”

The Edible Schoolyard Project has been teaching children since 2005 about basic foods they can grow and pick themselves. From the garden to the classroom, children involved in the project are responsible for creating healthy, filling meals. The program has become successful, branching out to over 3,500 locations worldwide, including five more fully-equipped edible schoolyards.

Food & Drink

2-Week Truce for Hot Sauce Maker, California City

(LOS ANGELES) — A cooling-off period has been called in the fight between the makers of Sriracha hot sauce and the Southern California city that says its air is too spicy to bear.

The Irwindale City Council delayed a decision for two weeks Wednesday night on declaring the Sriracha plant a public nuisance.

About 100 supporters of the hot sauce, including Huy Fong Foods owner David Tran, rallied outside City Hall before the meeting.

Irwindale’s city attorney requested the delay, saying he’s in settlement talks with attorneys for the company, which has made the popular sauce since 1980. The Irwindale plant was opened two years ago.

Earlier this month, council members tentatively but unanimously voted that the plant was a nuisance.

If the council had finalized its vote Wednesday, Huy Fong would have had 90 days to stop releasing the spicy emanations that neighbors say are burning their eyes and throats.

An attorney for Huy Fong told the council that the company plans to have a filtration system in place by June 1.

“Why do you hate me, why do you want to shut me down?” Tran said to the five-member council.

Mayor Mark Breceda, who brought a half-empty bottle of Sriracha sauce to the meeting, said the city doesn’t want to shut the factory down.

“It was never this council’s goal,” Breceda said. “No one wants you here more, Mr. Tran and Huy Fong Foods, than the City Council.”

Breceda said he was confident the city could reach a settlement with Tran before the council’s next meeting on May 7, the Pasadena Star-News reported (http://bit.ly/1iiKTHn ).

Tran called the decision disappointing and has opened his factory doors to lawmakers who were interested in having his plant relocate to their region. A delegation from Texas is expected to tour the facility next month.

Chicago Doctor Among Those Killed in Afghanistan

(CHICAGO) — A family member says one of the three American doctors killed when an Afghan security guard opened fire at a Kabul hospital was a pediatrician from Chicago.

Angie Schuitema (SKEYE’-tuh-muh) is the mother of Dr. Jerry Umanos’ (oo-MAHN’-ohs) wife. Schuitema said Thursday she learned of Umanos’ death, first from her son and then from her daughter, Jan Schuitema.

The Lawndale Christian Health Center in Chicago says on its website that Umanos worked there as a pediatrician for more than 16 years before moving to Afghanistan in 2005.

The shooting Thursday at Cure International Hospital in western Kabul was the latest in a string of deadly attacks on foreign civilians in the Afghan capital this year. An American nurse also was wounded.

Health Care

Advocates React To Mississippi Ban On Abortions After 20 Weeks

The bill signed this week by Gov. Phil Bryant that bans abortions after the midpoint of a pregnancy, and which makes no exception to cases of rape or incest, has quickly provoked adverse reactions from the pro-choice and pro-life communities

A bill signed by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant on Wednesday that bans abortions after 20 weeks with no exception for cases of rape or incest has provoked typically split reactions from the pro-life and pro-choice communities.

“Today is an important day for protecting the unborn and the health and safety of women in Mississippi,” Bryant said after signing HB 1400, which is set to become a law July 1. The bill bans abortion starting at 20 weeks’ gestational age, or since the beginning of the woman’s last period of menstruation. Pregnancies typically last 40 weeks. While the bill doesn’t provide exceptions to women who have been the victim of rape or incest, it does allow women to abort if they face risks of death or permanent injury or “severe fetal abnormalities.”

Bryant’s remarks were echoed by supporters who believe the law is a crucial step for women’s health. “A woman seeking an abortion at 20 weeks is 35 times more likely to die from abortion than she was in the first trimester. At 21 weeks or more, she is 91 times more likely to die from abortion than she was in the first trimester,” Dr. Charmaine Yoest, CEO of Americans United for Life, said in a statement. “I commend the leadership in Mississippi who worked together to achieve commonsense limits on dangerous abortion procedures.”

Opponents, however, called the new restrictions “dangerous” and “unconstitutional.” The Center for Reproductive Rights said that instances of abortions after 20 weeks were “exceptionally rare,” claiming only two were performed in 2012.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, which deals with reproductive health, while 23 percent of American abortion providers offer abortions at 20 weeks, only 1.2 percent of abortions occur after that point. Still, there has been a recent trend of legislation to bar abortion at that period. Several states including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas ban abortions from the mid-pregnancy point.

But Planned Parenthood claimed that while those bans begin at the point of fertilization — or two weeks after the first day of a woman’s last menstrual cycle — the Mississippi law would start counting the pregnancy at gestation, prohibiting abortions two weeks earlier than most other so-called 20-week bans. “Women who make the deeply personal and often complex decision to end a pregnancy [at its midpoint] should do so in consultation with their physician, not politicians,” Felicia Brown-Williams, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, told The Clarion-Ledger.

But Diane Deriz, who owns Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, says that the bill would have little bearing on actual abortion practices in the state. “[The bill is] a totally irrelevant piece of legislation that I’m sure was aimed at the clinic,” Derzis, owner of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, told the Jacksonville Free Press in March. “The clinic goes to 16 weeks, so what difference does that bill make?”

VIDEO: Obama Met a Robot on His Tokyo Trip

The revolution has begun

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It’s finally happened: The President has gone head-to-head with a robot.

President Barack Obama played soccer against a ASIMO, a very lifelike robot created by Honda, at the Natural Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo on Thursday.

Despite sharing some friendly conversation and bowing to one other out of respect, Obama later confessed to the Associated Press that “the robots were a little scary. They were too life-like.”

MORE: Smooth Moves: The History and Evolution of Honda’s ASIMO Robot

 

Military

Killing of 3 Americans Raises New Questions About Afghanistan and Iraq

AFGHANISTAN-UNREST-HOSPITAL-ATTACK
An Afghan policeman outside Kabul's Cure hospital, where another Afghan policeman killed three U.S. doctors Thursday. SHAH MARAI / AFP / Getty Images

The deaths of three U.S. doctors at the hands of an Afghan policeman raises questions about a continued American presence there

The killing of three U.S. medical personnel Thursday, allegedly by an Afghan policeman guarding their hospital, raises anew questions about the wisdom of a continued U.S. presence there, in uniform, scrubs or any other kind of garb. While U.S. troops may have increased protection after a spate of so-called blue-on-green attacks in recent years, the lifesavers working at Kabul’s Cure International Hospital apparently were slain by a policeman dedicated to their protection.

The murders come as two veteran reporters file on what life is like in Iraq, where the last U.S. troops left in 2011; and Afghanistan, where the U.S. troop presence has shrunk to 33,000, on the way to removing all U.S. combat troops by year’s end.

“Two years after the last American soldiers departed, it’s hard to find any evidence that they were ever there,” Dexter Filkins writes of Iraq in the latest New Yorker. Bombings are a deadly, and everyday, occurrence. Filkins notes that the U.S. started pushing for the election of Nouri al-Maliki as Iraq’s prime minister in 2006, after a Central Intelligence Agency officer recommended him to U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. “Among many Iraqis, the concern is that their country is falling again into civil war,” he writes, “and that it is Maliki who has driven it to the edge.”

A total of 4,486 U.S. troops died in Iraq.

Meanwhile, 1,800 miles away in Afghanistan, a unit from the 82nd Airborne Division recently returned and came “looking for a fight.” But it hasn’t happened. “Although they’re still preparing for the worse, the soldiers are discovering that the Afghanistan they left in 2012 isn’t the same country they returned to,” Drew Brooks of the Fayetteville Observer wrote Tuesday. “The job of fighting off insurgents now falls to Afghan national security forces.”

It was a member of those forces who killed the three Americans earlier today.

A total of 2,317 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan.

Two countries, one lesson: there is more than one way to win, or lose, a war.

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