TIME cities

Power Has Been Restored In Detroit Following a 7-Hour Outage

Detroit Power Outage
Diane Weiss—AP Detroit fire fighters and EMS responded to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center to rescue people from elevators and assist others down the stairs after a massive power outage hit downtown Detroit, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014.

Schools, colleges and public transportation are expected to resume normal operations Wednesday morning

Detroit’s electricity grid was restored Tuesday night, after an outage that saw large parts of the city — including schools and hospitals — lose power for about 7 hours.

The power went out at 10.30 a.m. and was completely restored by 5.15 p.m., Associated Press reports.

Among the major institutions affected were Detroit Receiving Hospital, which had to rely on backup power, and Wayne State University, which cancelled all classes for the second half of the day.

The university, and several public schools that were forced to declare a half-day, will reopen Wednesday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

A statement from city authorities said the outage also affected 740 traffic signals and 36 fire stations. It said that the DTE Energy Company has taken over the power grid’s operation and is in the process of an 18-month inspection of the system.

“This is a case where a part of the old system that hadn’t failed before failed,” said city mayor Mike Duggan, “Every month that goes by, we’ll be more and more on a more modern system and the likelihood of this happening will go down. But it’s part of rebuilding the city.”

TIME Crime

Michael Brown’s Stepfather Under Investigation for Outburst

Parents Of Michael Brown Return To Missouri After Speaking To United Nations Committee In Switzerland
Scott Olson—Getty Images Michael Brown's mother Lesley McSpadden is greeted by her husband Louis Head after arriving at St. Louis International Airport on Nov. 14, 2014

Investigators are considering whether to charge Michael Brown’s stepfather with attempting to incite a riot for urging a crowd in Ferguson, Missouri, to “burn this bitch down” as part of a larger inquiry into violence after a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of the unarmed black teenager, authorities told NBC News on Tuesday.

Louis Head, who is married to Lesley McSpadden, the young man’s mother, could be seen screaming that call and stronger ones at a gathering in Ferguson shortly after the grand jury’s “no bill” decision in the case of Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson was announced late Nov. 24 …

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME justice

Transgender Teen Awarded $75,000 in School Restroom Lawsuit

Jonas Maines,  Nicole Maines, Wayne Maines
Robert F. Bukaty — AP In this file photo, transgender student Nicole Maines, center, speaks to reporters as her father Wayne Maines, left, and brother Jonas, look on outside the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor, Maine.

Case was brought when a Maine school district forced the student to use a staff restroom

A court in Maine awarded the family of a transgender teenager $75,000 in a discrimination lawsuit against a school district that forced the student to use a staff restroom rather than a facility reserved for pupils, reports the Associated Press.

Nicole Maines, 17, had won her lawsuit against the Orono school district earlier this year in front of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled that the school district had violated the state’s Human Rights Act.

The case marked the first time a state’s highest court ruled that a transgender person has the right to use the restroom of the gender with which they identify.

In the wake of the court’s decision, a lower court awarded the financial settlement to the Maines family and the activist organization, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defender, on Nov. 25. In accordance with the order, the Orono school district is prohibited from refusing transgender students access “to school restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity.”

The case stemmed from an incident in 2007 when the grandfather of a fellow fifth grade classmate complained to school administrators that Maines was allowed to use the girls’ restroom. In the wake of the protest, the Orono school district began forcing Maines to use a staff facility — a decision that her parents argued was discriminatory.

[AP]

TIME Supreme Court

Is This Pregnancy-Discrimination Case the Next Lilly Ledbetter?

Women's rights leader Lilly Ledbetter, namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, addresses the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 4, 2012.
Jessica Rinaldi—Reuters Women's rights leader Lilly Ledbetter, namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, addresses the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 4, 2012.

Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday

In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court found that treating pregnant women unfavorably was not sex discrimination. Two years later, Congress came back with an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly saying it was.

Almost four decades later, the high court is again considering a case of pregnancy discrimination, in a move that has baffled women’s rights activists.

“Here we are at the end of 2014, talking about pregnancy discrimination, which we women’s rights advocates thought we had addressed and basically fixed in 1978,” says Judith Lichtman, senior adviser at the National Partnership of Women and Families.

In the decades since the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces the act, says discrimination complaints have increased. In 1997, over 3,900 complaints were filed. In 2013, that number jumped to 5,342.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Young v. UPS, after which it will consider whether refusing to accommodate pregnant women in the workplace always amounts to discrimination.

In Young’s case, the former UPS employee was placed on unpaid medical leave soon after she asked that her duties be shifted after her doctor told her to avoid lifting heavy objects. The company refused, noting it only did that for certain workers including those who had sustained injuries while on the job or who were covered by the American Disabilities Act. Young was instead placed on unpaid leave and eventually, according to the petition, lost her health coverage.

The company says it had the legal right to deny Young’s request at the time, though UPS has since changed its policy and will allow pregnant workers to take alternative assignments when necessary starting next year. In its legal filings, the company argues that Young is seeking special treatment for pregnant employees, a standpoint shared by pro-business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They argue that would set an unwelcome precedent on other corporate policies.

“If Petitioner’s approach were adopted,” read an amicus brief filed by the Chamber of Commerce , “it would overturn the seniority policies of thousands of American businesses and frustrate the valid goals of these policies.”

Young and her supporters argue that pregnant workers whose doctors say should limit their work should be treated similarly to any other temporarily disabled employee.

The tide of opinion appears to be in their favor. A recent poll by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, found that 79% of Americans think the Supreme Court should support Young in the case. Twelve states and two cities including West Virginia, Texas, New York City and Philadelphia have laws that in some way require employers to accommodate workers whose abilities may be limited by their pregnancies. And in July, the EEOC issued guidelines that say employers should not “refuse to treat a pregnant worker the same as other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work by relying on a policy that makes distinctions based on the source of an employee’s limitation.”

Still, women’s groups are not sure that they’ll prevail before the Supreme Court. If that happened, the ball would be in Congress’ court, much like it was when the justices ruled against women claiming pregnancy discrimination back in 1976 — or, more recently, when the high court ruled against a woman who said she was not paid fairly in the Lilly Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. case. That ruling led directly to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which addressed the problem justices had with the statute. Congressional Democrats have already introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, says that the Young case can also help put a face on the problem of pregnancy discrimination, much like how Ledbetter’s case helped publicize the issue of pay gaps between men and women.

“Lilly Ledbetter epitomized and embodied what happens to a woman working throughout a lifetime who has been paid less systematically,” Greenberger said. “Peggy Young is at an earlier stage in her career and she epitomizes the kinds of barriers that are erected against women during their child-bearing years, including when they become pregnant.”

TIME Law

California Man First to Be Jailed For Posting Facebook ‘Revenge Porn’

Previous individuals allegedly involved in revenge porn were charged with conspiracy

A Los Angeles man who allegedly posted nude photos of an ex-girlfriend online is the first person to be convicted under California’s “revenge porn” law, the city attorney announced Monday.

Noe Iniguez, 36, was sentenced by a judge to one year in jail and 36 months’ probation after he was found guilty of three criminal charges, including two for related restraining orders and a violation of the revenge porn statute. The city’s case, City Attorney Mike Feuer said in the statement, was largely based on Iniguez’s alleged postings in December 2013 on the Facebook page of the ex-girlfriend’s employer.

Signed into law last October and followed by a dozen states, it prohibits the unauthorized sharing of nude or sexual images of an individual with the intention of inflicting emotional harm. In the past, individuals allegedly involved in revenge porn have been charged with conspiracy by a federal grand jury and state courts.

Read more: A New Strategy for Prosecuting Revenge Porn

TIME LGBT

D.C. Bans Conversion Therapy for Gay Teenagers

D.C. Bans Gay Conversion Therapy
Bloomberg via Getty Images A supporter of same-sex marriage wears a rainbow flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on March 26, 2013.

Washington, D.C. joins California and New Jersey as the only places in America to outlaw the practice

Washington, D.C.’s city council voted Tuesday to ban a controversial therapy practice that aims to convert gay teens into heterosexuals.

The bill, which passed unanimously, forbids licensed mental health professionals from influencing minors with “efforts to change behaviors, gender identity or expression, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same sex or gender.” Only California and New Jersey have similar bans in place, the Washington Post reports. The move adds another victory for gay rights as federal judges continued to strike down several states’ same-sex marriage bans this year.

While the ban has garnered praise from human rights groups, the bill has been met with opposition by some religious groups, including the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian organization. Mixed opinions have similarly surrounded efforts to ban gay conversion therapy: in March, a similar bill was withdrawn in Maryland, while in June, the Supreme Court declined to hear cases opposing California’s ban.

[Washington Post]

TIME Crime

St. Louis Police Say Hammer Attack on Bosnian Man Not Racially Motivated

Zuhdi Masri, left, prays for murder victim Zemir Begic with a group of other Bosnians gathered on Holly Hills Avenue in St. Louis on Dec. 1, 2014.
David Carson—AP Zuhdi Masri, left, prays for murder victim Zemir Begic with a group of other Bosnians gathered on Holly Hills Avenue in St. Louis on Dec. 1, 2014.

Killing took place about 20 miles from Ferguson

Police in St. Louis said Tuesday that a fatal hammer attack on a Bosnian immigrant over the weekend by a group of teenagers was not motivated by race.

The killing of Zemir Begic, 32, took place about 20 miles from Ferguson, the suburb rocked by violent protests in the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white cop who shot and killed an black teenager in August. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the attack, allegedly committed by black and Latino teenagers wielding hammers, has sparked accusations from the region’s significant Bosnian-American community that city officials have again turned a blind eye to racially motivated crimes.

“Investigators do not believe the attack on Mr. Begic had any connection to him being of Bosnian descent,” St. Louis Police spokeswoman Schron Jackson said in a statement. Nor do they believe it is related to the unrest in Ferguson, Jackson told the newspaper. A 17-year-old has been charged with first-degree murder in the incident, having turned himself in to police Sunday night. The department has said it will work alongside the city prosecutor to determine a motive.

The region’s Bosnian-American community has called on officials to investigate all possible motives, Fox News reported Tuesday. “Bosnians right now have an impression that this was a hate crime,” Sadik Kukic, president of the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce, said. Kukic added that he believes several crimes against St. Louis’ Bosnians were racially motivated, including a 2013 murder of a Bosnian store owner.

[St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

TIME Healthcare

Fewer Errors in U.S. Hospitals Saved 50,000 Lives Between 2010 and 2013

Improved patient safety also saved $12 billion in health spending

Hospitals in the United States saw a 17% decline in hospital-acquired conditions between 2010 and 2013 due to a marked improvement in patient safety, saving an estimated 50,000 lives and billions of dollars, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a report released Tuesday.

In the three-year period, there were 1.3 million fewer “patient harms,” the report found, and $12 billion was saved in health spending as a result of fewer mistakes. Hospital errors can cause patients to contract infections or experience adverse drug effects, among other preventable medical problems.

The department partly attributed the improvement in hospital safety to provisions in federal law, such as the Affordable Care Act, which provides financial incentives for doctors to reduce hospital-acquired infections. The mistakes have especially been under policymakers’ scrutiny since the Institute of Medicine published a 1999 report that claimed up to 98,000 people died annually as a result of medical errors in American hospitals.

Speaking at the CMS Healthcare Quality Conference, HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell called the drop “a big deal” but added that “it’s only a start.”

TIME domestic violence

NFL Executive Breaks Down While Talking to Congress About Domestic Violence

He described watching "helplessly" as his mother be beaten when he was a child.

A top NFL executive broke down in a congressional hearing on domestic violence as he recounted as a child “watching helplessly” while his mother was beaten.

“Domestic violence was a way of life in my home growing up,” said Troy Vincent, the executive vice president of football operations for the NFL. “My brother and I watched helplessly numerous times as my mother was beaten and knocked unconscious while we dialed 911. We saw how she struggled to seek help and find the courage to say no more.”

The hearing, comes days after a court reinstated former Ravens running back Ray Rice, who in February dragged his fiancee, now wife, out of an Atlantic City casino elevator. Rice was initially suspended for only two games before a public outcry led NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to indefinitely suspend him. Vincent outlined several steps the NFL would undertake, including a “thorough review” of its personnel conduct policy with the goal of setting “clear rules” of misconduct for its players. Vincent added that the NFL would oversee a mandatory education program, training “critical response teams” to help prevent sexual and domestic violence, as well as raise awareness through collaborations with groups like No More.

“Recent events have made clear that we have not kept our standards current with our own values,” said Vincent, who added that “we failed” and “the commissioner failed” in his initial punishment of Rice.”We know now that the right people weren’t at the table…we’ve learned from those mistakes.”

Vincent said he expects that ex-FBI director Robert Mueller will come to the conclusion of his independent investigation “shortly” and that he believes the results would be made public.

“We’ve been humbled,” he said at the beginning of his remarks. “We’ve accepted the criticism we’ve received. And we’re committed to being a part of the solution. We will get this right.”

West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who chaired the hearing, called for the four major professional sports leagues to develop uniform policies to “effectively and appropriately” punish players who commit criminal acts against women and children. Many of the senators noted the outsize influence athletes have on America’s youth and lambasted the leagues for its current efforts in responding to domestic violence.

“There is a long list of players in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball who have been charged with, and in some cases convicted of, domestic violence, and the leagues have done little to nothing in response,” said Rockefeller in his opening remarks. “In fact, the press has reported that a culture of silence within the leagues often prevents victims from reporting their abuse to law enforcement. This has to change.”

Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller said in the hearing that every minute in the United States 20 people will experience domestic violence, “last night” more than 20,000 phone calls were made to domestic violence hotlines and that one in three women will experience such physical abuse from a partner sometime in their lives.

TIME Crime

Missouri Scales Back National Guard Amid ‘Improving Conditions’

Peaceful night in Ferguson
David Carson—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS/Getty Images Missouri National Guard soldiers patrol the parking lot of the Ferguson Market & Liquor store on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson a little after 10 p.m. on Dec. 1, 2014.

1,268 guards were stationed in St. Louis as of 1 p.m.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced a drawdown of National Guard operations on Tuesday, roughly a week after boosting security in the St. Louis region following the announcement that a grand jury would not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

Riots erupted in Ferguson shortly after the announcement and demonstrations quickly popped up around the country. Public officials, including Ferguson’s mayor, criticized Nixon for what they claimed was a too-delayed employment of the extra law enforcement officials, resulting in a night of arson, looting and riots that transfixed the national media and smoldered into the morning. Some 2,200 National Guardsmen were on the streets last week; Nixon said Tuesday that 1,268 were on patrol as of 1 p.m., local time.

“The men and women of the Missouri National Guard have served the people of the region admirably, and I greatly appreciate their professionalism, bravery and dedication,” Nixon said in a public statement. “As the Guard begins to scale back its operations, the Missouri State Highway Patrol will continue to work closely with local law enforcement agencies to protect lives and property in Ferguson and across the St. Louis region. My administration also remains committed to helping affected communities rebuild and recover, and building a safer, fairer and more united region for all.”

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