TIME Crime

Man Arrested for Stabbing Transgender Teen on D.C. Metro

A suspect has been charged with assault using a deadly weapon and could face a longer sentence if convicted of a hate crime

Authorities say a 15-year-old transgender teenager who was stabbed on the Green Line Metro in Washington D.C. on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. is currently recovering from her non-life-threatening injuries at a local hospital, and remains in stable condition. The police apprehended a suspect, 24-year-old Reginald Anthony Klaiber of Greenbelt, Md., after witnesses identified him at a nearby station.

The victims’ friends told local news that Klaiber approached the group, singled out the victim, and ridiculed her for her appearance. Dan Stessell, a Metro spokesman, told CBS DC that Klaiber allegedly stabbed the victim in the back one time before he fled to Fort Totten Station, where he was later arrested.

The attack comes shortly after a report released by Trans Violence Tracking Portal (TVTP), revealed that 102 transgender people were murdered in 12 countries from January to April this year. Allison Woolbert, the founder of TVTP, says that an antitransgender stigma has led to a disproportionate rate of violence against transgender people in 2014. “The suicides, the violence, the missing persons, and the murders are all directly related to a person’s gender identity,” Woolbert wrote to Vox.

The District of Columbia’s hate crime laws offer some protection to transgender victims by enhancing sentences for offenders. The Metropolitan Police Department is also required to federally report hate crimes each year.

Kaiber was charged with assault using a deadly weapon and could face additional hate crime charges, according to NBC Washington. If found guilty, the suspect’s sentence could be extended 1.5 times under District of Columbia law.

TIME Crime

Lone Seattle Police Officer Responsible for 80% of City’s Marijuana Citations

Seattle Police Chief
Seattle police chief Kathleen O'Toole salutes during a singing of the national anthem with Mayor Ed Murray at her side on June 23, 2014 Ken Lambert—AP

Cop in question reportedly issued 66 of 83 marijuana tickets handed out in the Emerald City during the first half of 2014

Seattle police chief Kathleen O’Toole has been forced to reassign an officer on her staff after the employee in question reportedly issued 80% of the city’s marijuana citations this year.

Officials are investigating the matter following the publication of the department’s first biannual report relating to marijuana enforcement, according to a statement released by O’Toole on Wednesday afternoon.

The Seattle Police Department report found that 66 of the 83 marijuana tickets issued this year was done so by a single officer, who at times would scribble peculiar notes in the margins of the citations in question.

“Some notes requested the attention of city attorney Peter Holmes and were addressed to ‘Petey Holmes,’” said O’Toole. “In another instance, the officer indicated he flipped a coin when contemplating which subject to cite.”

The police officer implicated in the incident has been taken off his regular patrol duties during the course of the investigation.

TIME Crime

Former Detroit Tiger Charged with Sexual Assault of Michigan Woman

Detroit Tigers pitcher Evan Reed throws against the Houston Astros in the seventh inning of a baseball game in Detroit on May 6, 2014.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Evan Reed throws against the Houston Astros in the seventh inning of a baseball game in Detroit on May 6, 2014. Paul Sancya—AP

Evan Reed is accused of sexually assaulting a 45-year-old woman in late March, while knowing the victim was "physically helpless or mentally incapacitated or mentally incapable to consent"

A former Detroit Tigers pitcher was charged with sexual assault on Wednesday for allegedly attacking a woman he met at a bar in March. Evan Reed, 28, a minor league pitcher for the Toledo Mud Hens, is accused of committing the alleged rape while the victim was “physically helpless or mentally incapacitated or mentally incapable to consent,” according to a release from the Wayne County Prosecutors office.

The victim, a 45-year-old woman from Oakland County, says she “began to feel odd” after finishing a drink at a bar in Royal Oak, Mich. The alleged assault took place in late March.

The Wayne County Prosecutors office has charged Reed with two counts of criminal sexual conduct, which could result in a maximum of 15 years behind bars. Reed is expected in a Detroit court on Thursday.

Reed’s lawyer called the charges “ridiculous” in a statement Wednesday, saying the 28-year-old has been cooperative and the evidence should prove he is not guilty.

“Evan fully cooperated with the police, gave witness statements, and provided other documentation supporting his innocence. Evan will be demanding a speedy trial and is looking forward to his day in court where he will be vindicated of any alleged wrongdoing,” lawyers Ben M. Gonek and David Gorcyca said in a joint statement. “When 12 jurors hear the facts of this case, there is no doubt in our minds they will find Evan not guilty of the charged offenses.”

The Detroit Tigers organization is also reportedly “closely monitoring” the situation. “As an organization, we take matters like this very seriously, and we are closely monitoring the situation,” the Tigers said in a statement. “Evan Reed’s representatives are handling his legal proceeding that must run its course before there is any further comment from the ballclub.”

TIME Environment

Florida’s Attempt to Ban This Fish Has Virtually No Chance of Working

A winged lionfish at the Beijing Aquarium on May 30, 2012.
A winged lionfish at the Beijing Aquarium on May 30, 2012. Mark Ralston—AFP/Getty Images

Why the lionfish is here to stay

If you were trying to create the perfect invasive aquatic species, a fish capable of out-eating and out-breeding anything it comes across, chances are you wouldn’t be able to improve upon the lionfish. The spiny, venomous fish can produce up to 15,000 eggs every four days, and feed voraciously on small fish, invertebrates and mollusks. They also tend to have a hostile territorial attitude to other reef fish and scuba divers alike. Introduce a lionfish into a coastal coral reef, and it can quickly clear the habitat of any competitors.

Since the lionfish—which is native to Indo-Pacific waters—was accidentally introduced off Florida in the 1980s or 1990s, that’s exactly what has happened. The lionfish has been identified as a major threat through the coastal waters of the Atlantic, from North Carolina to the Caribbean. There have been sponsored lionfish derbies, underwater hunts where divers stalk the invasive fish, and restaurants have even tried to make an industry out of harvesting the lionfish, serving them to diners. (They’re not bad, provided you remove the poisonous spikes.)

And starting on Aug.1, Florida will no longer allow the importation of invasive lionfish—though that might seem like closing the barn door after the horse has left, given that the first lionfish introduced into the Atlantic likely came from aquarium, and the population has since exploded. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will also allow lionfish to be hunted by divers equipped with a rebreather, a machine that recycles oxygen so that divers can remain below the surface for much longer. That might help divers spear a few extra lionfish, but given that a female can produce as many as 2 million eggs in a year, divers will need to be awfully busy to keep up.

The reality is, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said, “it is unlikely that the lionfish invasion can be reversed.” Which means divers should get used to the sight of the striped-lion fish, fins open like a sail, patrolling its new territory. That’s the challenge of responding to invasive species—there is no cure. There is only prevention.

TIME Education

Processing Issue Delays Bar Exam Submissions

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — Law school graduates sweated their way through the second and final day of their bar exams Wednesday, some relieved to see paper and pencil after running into a technical glitch that kept test takers in several states from uploading the first day’s answers from their computers.

The Florida-based software provider ExamSoft Worldwide Inc. said the processing problem created a six-hour backlog that had been cleared by early Wednesday morning. The cause was being investigated, spokesman Kenneth Knotts said.

After spending a full day Tuesday inside the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center writing essays and answering multiple-choice questions on her laptop, Julia Pascuzzo of Pittsburgh spent four hours in her hotel room facing error messages while trying to upload her work.

“I thought it was my computer until I finally logged onto Facebook and saw that my colleagues were having the same problem,” the Cornell University graduate said during a break from Wednesday’s testing. “I fell asleep and then at 3 in the morning I woke up with this panic attack and I was able to manually upload it.”

Knotts said the processing problems did not affect the exam takers’ answers. But test takers said it cut into their sleep and the time they had to prepare for day 2.

“It definitely takes away from the relief that you have for finishing — that there still might be more problems,” said Will VanDerlinder of Elmira, who tried for two hours to submit the exam.

Knotts said he couldn’t say what time the delays began or how many people were affected. The company, which administers bar exams in 43 states, listed 16 states that extended their deadlines for submitting the exams.

“We understand that is a stressful time for bar exam takers, and their experience last night was unacceptable to us,” ExamSoft said in a website apology. “We will work very hard to repair the trust they have placed in our care.”

John McAlary, executive director of the New York State Board of Law Examiners, said about 90 percent of the more than 10,000 test takers in his state had been able to upload their results by Wednesday morning. New York extended the deadline from 8:30 p.m. Wednesday until midnight and was prepared to extend it further if necessary, he said.

“It’s the most important exam they’re taking in their life and any little bump in their view is significant,” McAlary said.

“It’s a pressure cooker under the best of circumstances and no one wants to have anything enhance the pressure,” said Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners. “I know that there will be a lot of investigation following this to see what happened and make sure it never happens again.”

Test takers pay $100 to $150 to download the company’s application to their laptops, which they bring to test sites. Users are instructed to connect to the Internet and upload the file upon leaving.

With Minnesota’s 9 p.m. Tuesday submission deadline looming, Maggie Watson took screenshots of the upload failures and sent copies of fail-to-upload emails to the state bar examiner after repeated tries.

“Once I did that four, five, six times, I thought, ‘What’s going on?'” said Watson, who graduated from Indiana University-Bloomington and took the exam in St. Paul. The deadline was extended after it passed, she said.

“It seemed a little crazy,” said Meredith Schlacter, who graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and flew to Buffalo for the exam. “There’s one program that every state uses — they had to have anticipated that thousands of people would be using it at the same time.”

Several exam takers said they welcomed the bubble sheets, filled in with pencil, for the other half of the test.

“It’s really nice to be able to type your essays. I wouldn’t want to have to handwrite them,” said VanDerlinder, a University at Buffalo graduate, “but the added stress of a tech failure is not good.”

The states extending deadlines were Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Rhode Island.

TIME Health Care

Report: Cost of HealthCare.Gov Approaching $1 Billion

Marketplace guide Jim Prim works on the Healthcare.gov federal enrollment website as he helps a resident sign up for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act at an enrollment event in Milford, Delaware on March 27, 2014.
Marketplace guide Jim Prim works on the Healthcare.gov federal enrollment website as he helps a resident sign up for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act at an enrollment event in Milford, Delaware on March 27, 2014. Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

GAO Report places cost overrun blame squarely on the shoulders of the federal government

Correction appended July 30, 9:22 p.m. ET

Federal officials badly managed the development of a website to sell health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, potentially costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns, according to testimony that will be delivered to a House subcommittee on Thursday.

In prepared remarks posted online Wednesday, William T. Woods, an official at the General Accounting Office, says HealthCare.gov, a federal website charged with managing new individual health plans for consumers in 36 states, was marred by inadequate oversight by officials from the Department of Health and Human Services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an HHS agency in charge of the insurance website, “undertook the development of HealthCare.gov and its related systems without effective planning or oversight practices, despite facing a number of challenges that increased both the level of risk and the need for effective oversight,” according to Woods.

Details of Woods’ testimony were first reported by the Associated Press. The GAO conducted its investigation of HealthCare.gov at the request of the Investigations and Oversight subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

As became obvious in the days and weeks after HealthCare.gov launched on Oct. 1, 2013, the website was hobbled by technical problems and software glitches that prevented consumers from signing up for health plans until a repair effort was undertaken months later. The episode was a significant embarrassment for the Obama Administration, which had promised buying health plans through the website would be akin to purchasing any other goods or services on the Internet. Contractors charged with building HealthCare.gov and a data hub meant to verify identities, eligibility and income used to calculate federal subsidies had not completed their work by the time the site launched, according to Woods’ testimony. But the GAO placed blame on federal officials for not anticipating problems that would occur and for incurring significant cost increases as well as improperly approving additional spending.

According to Woods’ testimony, the cost of building one part of HealthCare.gov increased from $56 million to more than $209 million between September 2011 and February 2014. Expenses for the associated data hub ballooned from $30 million to $85 million. Woods says that by March 2014, CMS reported “obligating $840 million for the development of HealthCare.gov and its supporting systems.”

Federal officials, according to Woods, delayed assessing whether HealthCare.gov was ready for launch from March 2013 to September 2013, noting that this was just weeks before the site went live. Software experts have said in the months since HealthCare.gov launched and crashed that such a short window is far too narrow to evaluate a brand new, complex system like a new national website to sell health insurance and dole out federal subsidies to those who qualify.

As it became clear that the building of HealthCare.gov was not going smoothly, Woods says federal officials approved additional expenditures to contractors, including CGI Federal, the lead company hired to build the website. The GAO, he says, found approximately 40 instances in which CMS employees approved additional spending totaling $30 million.

“This is not to say the work was not necessary,” says Woods, “however, the work was not approved properly.”

As HealthCare.gov’s launch approached and CMS officials had the chance to withhold major funds from contractors, they chose not to. To save HealthCare.gov after its failed launch, HHS hired the firm Accenture to continue work on the website. But that contract, too, has cost far more than planned. According to Woods’ testimony, the $91 million contract awarded to Accenture in January 2014 increased to $175 million by June 5.

Eventually, HealthCare.gov was repaired and some 8 million Americans signed up for health plans through the federal website and 14 others run by individual states by the spring of 2014.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described how 8 million people signed up for new health care plans following the passage of the Affordable Care Act. They used the exchange created by the federal government, Healthcare.Gov, and 14 exchanges run by the individual states.

TIME Labor

Franchisors Fear Labor’s Big Mac Win

Fast Food Workers Across U.S. Rally For Increased Wages, Unionization
Fast food workers and activists demonstrate outside McDonald's downtown flagship restaurant on May 15, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson—Getty Images

Lawyers on both sides are digging in for a big battle

One of the strategies that has made McDonald’s a global fast food power over the decades is the corporation’s rigorous enforcement of standards. McDonald’s dictates everything from signage, to staffing levels, to food quality, to the temperature of the coffee to staffing levels. There’s no way franchisees can have it their way, as one competitor may have put it.

That enforced consistency, so critical to McDonald’s success, has been turned against the company by the National Labor Relations Board, whose general counsel ruled Tuesday that because McDonald’s pulls most of the strings, it has to be considered a co-employer of franchise workers. That decision came despite the company’s stance that franchisees are the employers and thus McDonald’s shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions.

The NLRB’s ruling applies to 181 cases filed since November 2012 by workers who said their rights were violated—e.g., they were fired—for participating in protests over wages. The NLRB tossed 68 of the cases, while 64 others are pending investigation. But the agency found 43 cases to have merit. More than 90% of the McDonald’s 14,000 restaurants are owned by franchisees, according to the company.

The ruling was a victory for organized labor-backed groups, such as Fast Food Forward, as well as other activists who have been running a national campaign to raise fast food wages to $15 an hour. The ruling means that if the NLRB board accepts any of these cases, McDonald’s, and not just its franchisees, will be hauled before an administrative law judge if the cases aren’t resolved through negotiation.

More importantly, the ruling’s broader legal reach has the restaurant and hospitality industries in an uproar — the decision has sent legal experts on the left and right to their perspective corners to gird for a fight that’s expected to eventually reach the Supreme Court.

“This decision to allow unfair labor practice complaints to allege that McDonald’s is a joint employer with its franchisees is wrong,” said Heather Smedstad, senior vice president of human resources at McDonald’s USA, in a statement. “McDonald’s will contest this allegation in the appropriate forum. McDonald’s also believes that this decision changes the rules for thousands of small businesses, and goes against decades of established law regarding the franchise model in the United States.

The ruling is an attempt to resolve a sticky point in labor law about who qualifies as an employer. It’s generally viewed that if a company outsources its work to another firm, that firm becomes the employer, says Richard Hurd, professor of industrial and labor Relations at Cornell University. That can lead to situations where contract employees work side by side with employees of the parent company.

“Unions have been trying to make the case for quite some time that it’s not that straightforward,” Hurd says.

According to Mark Barenberg, professor of labor law at Columbia University, in a quote supplied by Fast Food Forward, the ruling “has the potential to upend the fast-food industry’s decades-long strategy of ‘out-sourcing’ legal responsibility to franchisees when it comes to securing workers’ rights.”

What’s really got the franchising industry worried, though, is that the ruling will open a Pandora’s Box of liability exposure. If brand owners are deemed joint employers in a broader context, it will make them litigation targets for issues such as wages and hours, slips and falls, and sexual harassment, says David Sherwyn, professor of hospitality human resources at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. The potential liability is enormous, because litigators always sue the deepest pockets. Franchising companies in the food and hotel industries have spent years figuring out what constitutes control and what doesn’t to give themselves a legal distance from their owners: they can tell franchisees how they must decorate their hotels, for instance, but they won’t dictate employment practices.

“Franchise lawyers have figured out where the line is, and the line is all about control,” says Sherwyn. “Let’s call it the 40 yard line. The lawyers are living on the 38 yard line and I think the [NLRB] general counsel thinks they should be living on the 32.”

The industry wants McDonald’s to hold that line.

Even if the ruling stands up to legal challenges, however, don’t expect it to set off a big organizing campaign by labor unions in the fast food industry, says Hurd.

“This is not a huge step; it doesn’t say the unions can run an organizing campaign against McDonald’s nationally,” Hurd says. “The logistics would be impossible.”

That’s because labor would still have to organize store by store or franchise across a big enough swath of units. But it could allow a union such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) the leverage to discuss broad terms of, say, wage and hours policy that a franchisor, whether it’s McDonald’s or La Quinta Inns, could impose on its franchisees. And barring that, it provides the SEIU, which backs Fast Food Forward, its own forward momentum to continue to press for wage increases knowing that the giant McDonald’s Corp., and not just its diverse franchisees, now has a dog in this hunt.

TIME politics

Former Virginia Governor: My Dysfunctional Marriage Proves I’m Innocent

Bob McDonnell, Maureen McDonnell
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, accompanied by his wife, Maureen, speaks during a news conference in Richmond, Va., Jan. 21, 2014. Steve Helber—AP

Defense lawyers say the gov's wife accepted gifts because she had a crush on a political donor. Will the jury buy it? We asked the experts.

Lawyers for former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, argued Tuesday that the couple didn’t conspire to take over $165,000 in cash, shopping trips, and vacations from a wealthy donor, but instead only accepted the gifts because Mrs. McDonnell had a “crush” on the donor.

McDonnell, who left office in January, is accused of taking cash and gifts from Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in return for help promoting his dietary supplement company. But the couple’s lawyers are arguing that the Maureen McDonnell let Williams pay for expensive shopping trips and vacations because she had a “crush” on the charismatic businessman, and was unhappy in her marriage to the Governor. “Unlike the other man in her life, Jonnie Williams paid attention to Maureen McDonnell,” her defense attorney William Burck said. The couple face over 20 years in prison if convicted on federal corruption charges.

But will a jury believe the “crush” defense? Some lawyers think they just might.

“I think it’s ingenious, and I think it may work,” says Solomon L. Wisenberg, a D.C. based white collar defense lawyer who served as deputy independent counsel to Kenneth Starr during the Whitewater-Lewinsky investigations. “It certainly doesn’t make either one of them look good, but that’s not the same thing as committing a crime.”

Wisenberg notes that the McDonnells had filed a motion to sever, which would have allowed the co-defendants to face separate charges, but that this motion was denied, which means they had to coordinate their defense arguments. “This allows them to have kind of a complementary defense without pointing fingers at each other, yet it helps him because she’s obviously the principle player, and she’s the first one who roped this guy in,” he says.

“This strikes me as a more atypical defense, but that doesn’t mean it’s a Hail Mary pass,” says Josh Bowers, a professor at University of Virginia Law School who specializes in criminal procedure. “It could very well be the truth, and sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.”

But is Maureen McDonnell falling on her sword to protect her husband? “She’s got a lot less room to maneuver than he does,” Wisenberg explains. Mrs. McDonnell would have frequent private meetings with Williams, one former staff member called him her “favorite playmate,” and the two allegedly exchanged over 1,200 texts and phone calls over two years. “What’s she gonna do, say ‘It’s all my husband?’ The facts don’t seem to support that. What are her options other than what she’s doing?” he adds. The defense team also argued that Mrs. McDonnell was never a public official, and so shouldn’t be held to the same standards as her husband.

Wisenberg also notes that it might have been a misstep for the prosecution to start off with testimony from the McDonnell’s daughter Cailin, whose wedding was partially funded through gifts from Williams. Cailin McDonnell Young cried on the stand when she testified Tuesday that Williams had footed the bill for the catering at her 2011 nupitals. Wisenberg says Cailin’s tears on the witness stand could bode well for the defense, since a crying young woman makes the prosecution look like bullies, especially since juries are more likely to remember what happens at the beginning and end of the trial. “She’s an attractive young female testifying about the wedding, asking for Kleenex,” he says. “If I’m on the defense, I’m doing high-fives under the table.”

TIME

Begging for Impeachment

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama pauses, as he announces new economic sanctions against key sectors of the Russian economy in the latest move by the U.S. to force Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his support for Ukrainian rebels, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on July 29, 2014. Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP

To improve its standing with voters, the White House tries to drum up some trouble for itself

At 10:02 on Friday evening, July 25, I received the following personal message from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: “THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT OBAMA IS NOW A REAL POSSIBILITY.” The capital letters were in red. This was a blast email, of course, sent to everyone on the Democratic Party’s fundraising list, and also to political journalists. It referred to some very calculated remarks that White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer had made earlier that day about impeachment: “I think Speaker Boehner, by going down the path of this lawsuit [against the President], has opened the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some point in the future.”

This was the beginning of a half-crazed weekend begathon by the Democrats. The next afternoon: “Sorry to email you early on a Saturday—but we’re on full RED ALERT at Democratic Head-quarters…According to our records, you haven’t chipped in since Republicans authorized a vote to sue President Obama.” (Or ever chipped in, for that matter.) And Sunday: “MAJOR UPDATE: House Republicans held a closed-door meeting to discuss impeaching President Obama.” On Monday I received a cranky email from Obama himself: “Joe Biden has emailed you. Michelle has emailed you. And now I’ve emailed you. We wouldn’t all be asking if it wasn’t so important. Right now, Republicans in Congress are trying to sue me for simply doing my job.” Later that day, the DCCC re-sent me that email: “Did you see this? President Obama emailed you this morning.”

Holy moley. There is cleverness to the onslaught, of course, a classic use of a political tactic known as jiu-jitsu: take your opponent’s feral vehemence and roll with it. No doubt, Pfeiffer is right. There is a chance that the Republicans will try to impeach the President, especially later in the summer, after he announces a major Executive Order that will affect a large number—millions, perhaps—of the illegal immigrants now in the country. There is speculation that it will be a further expansion of the legal status he conferred on children brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents; perhaps the parents will now be included. There is likely to be an explosion if he does this—the Central American refugee crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border has made immigration the hottest of domestic issues. It is also the most toxic issue for Republicans, who hope to win the presidency someday—and the Senate this November.

House Speaker Boehner has said there will be no impeachment. That’s why he instituted a rather silly lawsuit against the President over—yet again—Obamacare, which aides say could be expanded if Obama goes for broke on the border. Boehner is trying to placate the GOP base. But he also promised that there would be no government shutdown in 2013 and got trampled by his troops. The Speaker knows there’s nothing the Democrats would rather have than impeachment and immigration as the dominant issues in the fall campaign. He also knows there’s nothing Rush Limbaugh would rather have; indeed, it would be a ratings bonanza—the base would go berserk. And on the other end of the Republican evolutionary spectrum, a leading conservative thinker, Yuval Levin, has said the Executive Order that Obama is contemplating would be “the most extreme act of executive overreach ever attempted by an American President in peacetime.” There might be no stopping the primal fury unleashed by what the Republicans are calling “executive amnesty.”

So, this is smart strategy on the part of the Obama political operation, right? Well, grudgingly, yes. But it’s also cynical as hell. The White House is playing with fire, raising the heat in a country that is already brain-fried by partisan frenzy. There is something unseemly, and unprecedented, about an administration saying “Bring it on” when it comes to impeachment. Clinton’s White House certainly never did publicly, even though it was clear from polling that the spectacle would be a disaster for Republicans. Of course, President Clinton had done something immoral, if not impeachable, and Obama has not. Another impeachment ordeal would be terrible for the country.

Also terrible for the country, if all too common, is the DCCC’s impeachment begging—and the President’s constant fat-cat fundraising in a summer of trouble. What if he simply said, “I’m done with fundraising. This is an important election, but there’s just too much going on in the world right now”? His political folks would hate it, but I suspect it might be more effective, and presidential, than sending out tin-cup emails.

TIME Health Care

Mississippi’s Only Abortion Clinic Will Stay Open After Court Ruling

Abortion-Mississippi
Abortion support signs outside of the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss. on November 21, 2013. Rogelio V. Solis—AP

A federal appeals panel blocked a law that would have closed the one abortion clinic in Mississippi

The sole abortion clinic in Mississippi will remain open after a federal appeals panel on Tuesday blocked a state law that would have required its doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in a 2-to-1 vote that the law would have effectively ended abortion in the state, as the clinic’s doctors have been unable to receive admitting privileges from local hospitals. The panel said Mississippi would be illegally shifting its constitutional obligations to neighboring states, the New York Times reports.

“A state cannot lean on its sovereign neighbors to provide protection of its citizens’ federal constitutional rights,” Judge E. Grady Jolly wrote.

Mississippi lawmakers who supported the law said it only sought to address safety issues and “the regulation of abortion clinics,” said State Rep. Sam C. Mims. Opponents of the law said it was intended to end abortion in the state.

The U.S. Appeals Court ruling did not consider whether the requirement that doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals was justified on safety grounds, and only ruled that Mississippi could not close its sole abortion clinic.

Federal courts in Alabama, Kansas and Wisconsin have blocked similar laws, reports the Times, while they have taken effect in Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

A Texas law that requires doctors to obtain admitting privileges and has caused one-third of the state’s abortion clinics to close was upheld in March, forcing women in some parts of the state to drive more than 100 miles to obtain an abortion.

Judge Emilio M. Garza of the appeal court said in a dissenting opinion that “no state is obligated to provide or guarantee the provision of abortion services within its borders.”

[NYT]

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