TIME cities

New York City Cabbie Insists On Right To Wear Nazi Armband

Self-proclaimed National Socialist cab driver Gabriel Diaz claims he doesn't hate Jews, but demands the right to wear a swastika on his arm

A New York City taxi driver who was suspended for wearing a Nazi armband insisted Friday on his right to wear it.

“I am. I’m a National Socialist – what you guys call a Nazi. I am. I’m a believer of it,” Gabriel Diaz, 26, said.

Diaz was handed a thirty-day suspension for wearing the armband while driving, which is against New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission rules, the CBS affiliate in New York reports. It’s not illegal to wear a swastika in public, however. Diaz said he knew the armband would offend some people but denied being anti-Semitic.

“I don’t hate Jews. I’m critical of them, but I don’t hate them. That doesn’t mean that I’m anti-Semitic. That don’t make me a hater,” Diaz said. “Who says you have to be white to be a National Socialist? You don’t have to be white, it can be anybody.”

The armband, which Diaz wore on his forearm, offended passersby, but there’s no evidence he discussed his national socialist leanings with his passengers.

Diaz said he had no intention of saying sorry for his behavior. “It pains me that I have to apologize,” he told CBS. “You know, it pains me. I don’t want to apologize.”

[CBS]

TIME faith

Americans Frequently Lie About Church Attendance, Study Says

A Bible Open On A Wooden Bench
Getty Images

Americans are prone to exaggerate how often they sit in the pews on Sundays, a new study shows, depending on the setting in which they’re asked. When asked on the phone, survey respondents were more likely to exaggerate than when they were asked online

A new study suggests Americans are prone to fibbing when asked how regularly they go to church.

A report by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that Americans inflate reports of their church attendance depending on the setting in which they’re asked. When asked on the phone, survey respondents were more likely to exaggerate their Sunday diligence than when they were asked online.

In a telephone survey, 36 percent of Americans report attending religious services weekly or more, compared to 31 percent on the online survey.

The phone and online surveys of American adults were conducted in 2013, with 2,002 people interviewed by cell and landline and a demographically comparable group of 2,317 answering questions online.

White mainline Protestants have the hardest time admitting they “seldom or never” attend church, with 28 percent saying they rarely go on the telephone, but 45 percent admitting to playing hooky in an online questionnaire.

Black Protestants seem to inflate church attendance the most, with 54 percent claiming they go weekly when asked on the phone, and just 40 percent saying they attend weekly in an online survey.

Isn’t there some commandment about this? Well, maybe you have to go to Church to find out.

TIME natural disaster

San Diego Wildfire Destruction Could Reach 30,000 Acres

California wild fires
A longtime exposure shows smoldering remains of overnight fires on the hillsides of San Marcos, San Diego county, Calif., May 16, 2014. Stuart Palley—EPA

Only one of the seven major blazes in the outskirts of San Diego had been fully contained by early Saturday, and the rest are expected to spread further — though cooler, more humid weather will help in the fight to extinguish the fires

San Diego residents began returning home Saturday even as some of the worst early-season wildfires in California’s history continued to carve a swathe of destruction along the city’s drought-wasted outskirts, threatening to engulf up to 30,000 acres of land.

The dozen or so fires that raged in the less populated areas around California’s second-largest city had desolated more than 26,000 total acres of land, or 40 square miles by early Saturday, Cal Fire Capt. Richard Cordova told TIME. Only one of the seven major blazes had been fully contained, and the rest are expected to spread further.

A fire that began on Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook on Wednesday had affected over 6,500 acres and a separate fire first reported Thursday—the “Las Pulgas” fire—engulfed 15,000 acres.

A total of 11 single-family homes in San Diego county and 25 structures of the Harmony Grove Spiritualist Association have been destroyed so far in the 2,520-acre Cocos fire, based on a damage assessment late Friday by local authorities. Dozens of home have been swallowed up over the course of the week.

An unusually harsh drought this season, along with hot, arid winds from the east have made the region particularly susceptible to fire, said Cordova, exacerbating the risk of the region’s 10-year fire cycle, which lands this year.

“We get extreme fire behavior every 10 years and the drought doesn’t help. This is very odd for the month of May to have these types of fires,” Cordova said.

Parts of the county were reopened for residents after some of the worst fires were quelled, with sections of San Marcos and the Del Dios corridor around Lake Hodges, but much of the area remained closed as the fire continued to burn actively with strong winds.

Up to 125,000 people have been forced to leave their homes, Reuters reports.

Authorities were investigating how so many fires started at the same time and whether they were intentionally set. Two teenagers were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of setting two small fires that bystanders quickly extinguished. A 57-year-old man was also charged with arson Friday in connection with a fire near the suburban area of Oceanside.

The fire erupted Wednesday near the town of San Marcos after the worst drought season since the federal government began monitoring levels in 2000.

Local firefighters are working closely with the U.S. military and national guard this year, who will deploy aid within 24 hours, faster than the four to five days of previous years, the Cordova said.

The fire could burn as much as 30,000 acres but cooler, more humid weather over the next few days will help firefighting efforts.

TIME natural disaster

San Diego Wildfires Leave Haunting, Burned-Out Landscapes

At least twelve separate fires raged through 20,000 acres of land in San Diego County, Calif. this week, leaving scorched hillsides and piles of ashes where houses once stood. Most blazes were under control Saturday, with at least one man charged with arson for starting a fire

TIME justice

Utah Lawmaker Plans to Bring Back Firing Squad

Firing Squad
Getty Images

"It sounds like the Wild West, but it's probably the most humane way to kill somebody," said a Republican state Rep. Paul Ray, who plans to propose reintroducing the firing squad as a more humane form of execution in a legislative session next year

A Utah lawmaker plans to reintroduce the firing squad as a more humane form of execution, after several botched executions using lethal injections have raised a public outcry over capital punishment in recent weeks.

“It sounds like the Wild West, but it’s probably the most humane way to kill somebody,” said Rep. Paul Ray, a Republican state lawmaker from the northern Utah city of Clearfield.

Ray said he’ll introduce the controversial proposal in Utah’s January legislative session after similar efforts stalled in Wyoming and Missouri, the Associated Press reports. Utah eliminated execution by firing squad in 2004, but executed an inmate in 2010 using .30-caliber Winchester rifles, as the convict had been sentenced to death before the ban.

(More: Every execution in U.S. history in a single map)

Some have argued that a firing squad is a faster and more certain method of execution, particularly after a spate of drawn-out and miscarried deaths by lethal injection, including one in Ohio in January and another instance in Oklahoma in April.

With a firing squad “the prisoner dies instantly,” Ray said. “It sounds draconian. It sounds really bad, but the minute the bullet hits your heart, you’re dead. There’s no suffering.”

[AP]

TIME LGBT

Gay Marriage on Hold in Arkansas Following New Ruling

Beth Moore, Abby Hill, Jeremy Hernandez
Beth Moore, left, and her partner Abby Hill, center, exchange vows in a marriage ceremony performed by Jeremy Hernandez, right, at the Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville, Ark., Friday May 16, 2014. Sarah Bentham—AP

A week after Circuit Judge Chris Piazza struck down Arkansas’ ban on gay marriage, the state's Supreme Court has suspended his ruling and halted the distribution of marriage licenses. Before the court’s suspension, over 450 same-sex couples got married in the state

The Arkansas Supreme Court suspended a judge’s ruling that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban Friday, stopping the distribution of marriage licenses to hundreds of gay couples.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza struck down a 2004 amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman last week and expanded his ruling on Thursday to include all state laws banning gay marriage. The counties named in the lawsuit asked justices to stay Piazza’s ruling as they appeal.

The Supreme Court denied a request on Wednesday to stay his initial ruling, but effectively halted gay weddings when they pointed out a separate law that forbids clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples was still on the books. Piazza’s Thursday ruling rejected the state’s request to put his decision on hold saying that gay couples would be harmed by such action. Counties resumed issuing licenses.

Over 450 same-sex couples had received marriage licenses since Piazza’s ruling, according to USA Today. Friday’s ruling put a halt to the licenses again, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, a resolution by Republicans to invalidate the licenses issued to same-sex couples failed before a legislative panel on Friday.

Gay marriage is currently legal in seventeen states.

[AP]

TIME Military

Let’s Celebrate Armed Forces Day… By Building a New Pentagon from the Ground Up

DoD

Sometimes it’s easier to start from scratch

The unceremonious firing of the New York Times’ top editor last Wednesday helped push into public view a tough assessment on the future of newspapers in a digital world—and just how challenging it can be to change an existing structure into something new.

If you think it’s tough in the newspaper business, imagine how hard it is for the Department of Defense.

The Pentagon is on call 24/7. The nation doesn’t have the luxury of trading it in for a new model, like you might do with a car. You’ve got to keep the old one humming along, while nurturing its evolution into something better-suited for the information—instead of the industrial—age.

But seeing as this is the weekend—and Saturday is Armed Forces Day, no less—what if we were able to start with a fresh slate and build a new American military from the ground up? How close would it resemble what we’ve already got?

Not much, according to the recommendations of Shawn Brimley and Paul Scharre, a pair of ex-Pentagon officials now at the influential Center for a New American Security think tank. They’ve posted a provocative piece over at the Foreign Policy website entitled CTRL + ALT + DELETE—Resetting America’s Military. Among other radical ideas, they’re proposing doing away with the Army, Navy, Air Force and, God forfend, the Marines.

They’d replace them with expeditionary corps (civil-affairs types and others who partner with allies abroad), operator corps (the ones who do the shooting, on land, sea and sky), cyber corps (the computer geeks), and commando corps (who’d rescue hostages, kill Osama bin Ladens and corral loose nukes).

“Unlike today’s military services, the corps would not own forces but would only manage personnel,” they propose. “Standards for recruiting, physical fitness, education, and even ideal personality traits would vary among them.”

They elaborate:

In our vision, the military would be organized around its three overarching missions: defend the homeland, defeat adversaries, and maintain a stabilizing presence abroad — themes that run through defense strategy documents over the last quarter-century, regardless of presidential administration…We would invest more in robotics systems of all kinds, protect existing special operations and cyberspace capabilities, and reduce less relevant capabilities like short-range aircraft and tanks…

New recruitment tools would allow the hiring of midcareer professionals who have skills in key areas, like cybersecurity and economic development…We would institute a true volunteer force, whereby those in uniform would owe a certain amount of time to the military based on training received. If they chose to leave early — which they would be free to do — they would have to reimburse the government for the cost of the training they had acquired at taxpayer expense…

The military’s anachronistic class division into officers and enlisted personnel, more suitable for 18th-century Britain than 21st-century America, would be redefined. No corporation that placed 22-year-old college graduates directly into middle management could survive, and we would institute a more sensible leadership model based on experience and ability.

But you may not want to spend too much of Armed Forces Day weekend pondering their proposal. “The one thing that we know about this idea is that it’s never going to happen,” says David Rothkopf, Foreign Policy’s editor. “It would involve confronting moneyed, entrenched interests in the private sector as well as the Pentagon, which kills ideas that threaten its core programs more efficiently than it does any foreign enemy. This is the military-industrial complex that Dwight Eisenhower warned us about as he prepared to leave office—except today it is bigger and more powerful than it has ever been.”

Of course, if you think these guys are full of beans, check out Jay Nordlinger’s piece in the latest National Review: Ike as Weapon—The use and abuse of Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, with its warning about the ‘military-industrial complex’.

“It’s always a tricky business to try to speak for the dead, or to claim to do so,” Nordlinger says. “But given everything we know about Eisenhower, I believe he would be in the camp of those who say our defenses are dangerously low, inviting of aggression.”

And if you think he’s full of baloney, here’s that passage from Eisenhower’s January 17, 1961, address for which the Army-five-star-general-turned-President is best remembered. It makes for good reading on Armed Forces Day—or any other.

TIME Veterans

Top Veterans Affairs Health Care Official Resigns

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki Testifies Before Senate Robert Petzal
Eric Shinseki, U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), left, and Robert Petzel, U.S. VA undersecretary for health, swear in to a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, May 15, 2014. Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Undersecretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel has stepped down a day after being grilled in Congress amid uproar over alleged malfeasance and cover-ups at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Petzel said in September that he planned to retire this year

Updated 7:18 p.m. ET

Secretary for Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki announced Friday he accepted the resignation of the official in charge of the VA’s healthcare services.

Undersecretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel offered his resignation a day after sitting aside Shinseki while both men were grilled on Capitol Hill. Shinseki and Petzel faced questions Thursday about long-standing inefficiencies in the VA’s healthcare system, as well as allegations that VA officials covered up evidence of delays at a Phoenix, Arizona, clinic that may have led to the deaths of 40 veterans.

“As we know from the Veteran community, most Veterans are satisfied with the quality of their VA health care, but we must do more to improve timely access to that care,” Shinseki said in a Friday statement. “I thank Dr. Petzel for his four decades of service to Veterans.”

Petzel said in September that he planned to retire this year, according to the Associated Press.

“As the President has said, America has a sacred trust with the men and women who have served our country in uniform, and he is committed to doing all we can to ensure our veterans have access to timely, quality health care,” the White House said in a statement. “He has asked Secretary Shinseki to conduct a review of Veterans Health Administration practices and procedures at its facilities nationwide to ensure better access to care, and that review is ongoing.”

This post was updated with a statement from the White House.

TIME Saving

Only Suckers Abide by Food Expiration Dates

CNN Newsouce

Date labels on food were created with consumer safety in mind. But some of the labels result in confusion—and tons of perfectly safe food tossed out for no good reason.

We hear regularly that Americans waste a colossal amount of food. One popular factoid has it that we wind up throwing out 25% of the food that comes into our homes. Over the years, experts have pointed out that Americans aren’t really trying to be wasteful; instead, we’re often misled by confusing expiration dates, or rather what we think of as expiration dates. Sites such as ShelfLifeAdvice.com try to clarify the meaning of terms such as “use by” and “sell by,” with the general takeaway being that you shouldn’t necessarily toss food out when the date stamped on a product has passed.

We Americans are hardly alone in the widespread practice of unknowingly wasting food—and in wasting it directly because of confusing labels. Reuters reports that researchers in Europe are presenting a paper on Monday arguing that it might be best for some labels—specifically the “best before” guideline—to be eliminated for certain products. The poor understanding of food labels is credited as part of the reason that an estimated 100 million tons of food is wasted annually in Europe, and that some 30% to 50% of food that winds up in supermarkets is thrown out.

Whereas the “use by” label is applied to foods that pose a health risk if consumed beyond the date listed, “best before” guidelines tend to be an indication of quality. Many foods stamped with “best before” dates have extremely long shelf lives—canned foods can be fine for years—and they can be eaten safely long beyond the date listed. It’s just a matter of their quality supposedly diminishing once that date has passed. Consumers often don’t make this distinction, and simply throw food away as soon as it seems to have “expired.”

When viewed on a global scale, food waste is not simply a monetary issue, but an environmental and humanitarian one as well, so officials in Europe are reconsidering the usage of “best before.” For many foods, it may be best to get rid of the label entirely.

TIME 9/11

9/11 Memorial Timelapse Shows a Decade of Recovery in 2 Minutes

For 4,617 days (and counting) cameras trained on ground zero captured the resilience of a nation

Days after the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers fell in downtown New York City on September 11, 2001, EarthCam CEO Brian Cury trained a camera on ground zero to capture the recovery effort.

Like the recovery effort itself, that project expanded over time, with more cameras installed at different angles to capture the construction of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum built in the space once occupied by the towers. In this timelapse video, images collected by EarthCam between 2004 and 2014 are assembled to show the decade of construction that turned the rubble of 9/11 into a memorial and museum, the latter of which opened Thursday.

“I hope this time-lapse serves as a way to recognize that for the 10 years of construction, there was constant progress made to rebuild these important 16 acres of America,” Cury said in the video description on YouTube.

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