Iranian Prison Vows to Revisit Case of Marine Veteran Amir Hekmati

Hekmati family—Freeamir.org/AP This undated file photo released by his family via FreeAmir.org shows Amir Hekmati.

The Michigan resident ended his hunger strike Tuesday

Marine veteran Amir Hekmati has quit his hunger strike in Iran’s Evin Prison after officials said they would take steps to have his case revisited by Iranian authorities.

A spokesman for the Hekmati family declared Tuesday that the 31-year-old had ended the strike he started the week before, reports the Flint Journal.

Hekmati, an Arizona native and long-time Michigan resident, was arrested in Iran in August 2011 on allegations of being a spy. His family claims he was simply visiting his grandmother in Tehran.

Last week, Hekmati released an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama that he dictated over phone to his family.

“It is my hope that after reading this letter you, or anyone who may see this, will help end the nightmare I have been living,” the letter stated. “As you are well aware, I have been detained in Evin Prison in Iran for more than three years. … I remain confined without a fair trial and no idea or understanding of what is to be my fate.”

U.S. officials have been outspoken in their support of Hekmati, and a group of fellow Marine veterans who joined Hekmati’s hunger strike have vowed to continue until “Iran does the right thing.”

“We welcome their willingness to revisit his case, but the only solution here is to free Amir unconditionally,” said Marine veteran Brandon Walker.

The Hekmati family’s spokesperson voiced their appreciation for those who support his case: “The family, particularly Amir’s ailing father, is deeply moved by the thousands who have joined the campaign.”

[Flint Journal]

TIME Presidents

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush Hospitalized as Precaution

George HW Bush Sr.
Lance King—Getty Images Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush looks on during a game between the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., on Jan. 18, 2014

The 90-year-old Texas resident is being hospitalized just as a precaution, his office said

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush was brought by ambulance to a hospital in Houston on Tuesday night, a precautionary measure after experiencing shortness of breath, his office said in a statement.

The 41st President ”will be held for observation, again as a precaution” at Houston Methodist Hospital, the statement said.

The White House said in a separate statement that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have been made aware of Bush’s hospitalization. The two “send their good wishes to the former President and the entire Bush family during this holiday season,” read the statement.

Bush, who is 90-years-old, recently celebrated his ninth decade by skydiving under a red, white and blue parachute.

TIME radio

Casey Kasem Family Feud Continues as Radio DJ’s Body Is Buried in Oslo

Eric Jamison—AP In this Oct. 27, 2003, file photo, Casey Kasem poses for photographers after receiving the Radio Icon award during the 2003 Radio Music Awards in Las Vegas

Former host of American Top 40 was buried in Norway last week without the knowledge of his adult children from a previous marriage

Casey Kasem, the legendary former host of the radio show American Top 40, was buried last week, six months after his death, at a cemetery in Oslo, adding another chapter to a long-running family feud.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Kasem’s daughter Kerri Kasem wrote: “This morning my family and I learned that my Dad’s abusive wife Jean Thompson Kasem and their daughter Liberty conned a cemetery in Norway into burying my Dad there. Even with ALL the letters, attached below, from my father’s friends and family stating that he wanted to be buried in the UNITED STATES, the country in which he was born and raised, his wishes were, once again, ignored by his unfaithful wife.”

CNN on Tuesday confirmed the burial at Vestre Gravlund in Oslo with a manager of cemetery administration.

Kerri won conservatorship over her father’s health in the months before his death, but Jean fought this decision in court, claiming that Kasem’s children from his first marriage were prematurely ending his life.

Before his death, Jean moved her husband from a care facility in Santa Monica, Calif., to the home of family friends in Washington State. Family members have since complained that they didn’t know where the body was located.

CNN was not able to reach Jean Kasem for a comment.


TIME weather

Four Killed by Tornadoes in Mississippi

Severe Weather Mississippi
Eli Baylis—AP Police inspect Kids' Kampus, a day-care facility after a tornado ripped the roof off of the building in Sumrall, Miss., on Dec. 23, 2014

The state and region are bracing for more bad weather ahead of Christmas

At least four people in Mississippi were killed by tornadoes on Tuesday, in what a Weather Channel meteorologist described as possibly the deadliest December tornado occurrence in Mississippi since 1953.

Two of the deaths were in Marion County, and the other two in a mobile home in Jones County, NBC News reports.

Meanwhile, tornadoes and hail are continuing to scuttle holiday travel plans across the southeastern U.S. At least two tornadoes were reported in Louisiana and Georgia, and a tornado watch was in effect on Tuesday for parts of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

More than 5,600 flights were delayed in the U.S. on Tuesday, as of 10:00 p.m., and almost 850 were canceled, according to FlightAware.com.


TIME apps

L.A. Judge Stubs Out Marijuana App

Marijuana is seen under a magnifier at the medical marijuana farmers market in Los Angeles
David McNew—Reuters Marijuana is seen under a magnifier at the medical marijuana farmers market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles, California July 11, 2014

Court says Nestdrop flouted Proposition D's rules against pot delivery

Correction appended: Dec. 24, 2014.

A Los Angeles-based smartphone application aimed at becoming the city’s first mobile medical marijuana logistics service was ordered to stop business by a judge on Tuesday.

Judge Robert O’Brien, of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, said Nestdrop, a mobile app hoping to connect the city’s medical marijuana patients with dispensaries, was in violation of a voter-approved law called Proposition D that explicitly bans medical marijuana delivery, according to the Associated Press.

Nestdrop claimed that they were not in violation of the law because they only connect distributors with patients and do not handle the marijuana themselves, according to the Los Angeles Times.

On Dec. 2, L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer filed an official complaint about the company’s supposed violation of Proposition D.

“Nestdrop is the technology platform that connects law abiding medical marijuana patients with local dispensaries to receive the medication that they need in a safe and secure manner,” Nestdrop co-founder Michael Pycher told the Los Angeles Times earlier this month.

Launched earlier this year, the company said that it will maintain its alcohol logistics service within Los Angeles while evaluating future options to operate there in the medical marijuana industry as well.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the timing of Feuer’s lawsuit. It was filed on Dec. 2, 2014. The original version of this story also incorrectly described when Nestdrop first launched. The app first became available in the summer of 2014.

TIME Crime

Autopsy Reveals Pennsylvania Killing Spree Suspect Poisoned Himself

Pennsylvania Shooter Suicide Poisoning
Handout—Getty Images In this undated handout from the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, Bradley William Stone, a suspect in the shooting deaths of six people and the wounding of another, is seen.

Bradley Stone, 35, was found dead after a manhunt near Philadelphia

An autopsy of the Pennsylvania man suspected of killing six relatives reveals he died after poisoning himself, authorities said Tuesday.

Bradley Stone, who was found dead with self-inflicted stab wounds on Dec. 16 after a manhunt in the Philadelphia suburbs, died of a “combined drug intoxication,” ABC News reports. Authorities said Stone had taken a cocktail of Trazodone, Risperidone and mCPP.

Stone, 35, was suspected of shooting to death his ex-wife and five of her family members, and wounding one more, during the early hours of Dec. 15. The motive remains unclear but legal documents show Stone had recently lost a custody battle against his ex-wife for their two daughters.


TIME Crime

Family of Slain NYPD Officer Thanks Gunman’s Family for Sympathies

Families of Rafael Ramos, Wenjian Liu Speak
Bilgin Sasmaz—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images A view of the memorial for slain NYPD officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, on Tompkins Ave. and Myrtle Ave. where two officers were murdered, in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Dec. 22, 2014.

"I'd like to meet them and say, 'Thank you for feeling sorry for us'"

The family of one of two NYPD officers who were fatally shot in an ambush Saturday accepted condolences from the gunman’s family on Tuesday and absolved them of blame.

“I need people to stop the crap, get it together,” Rafael Ramos’ sister, Sindy, said Tuesday at a memorial. “We’re supposed to be family. We’re not supposed to be enemies.” Ronnie Gonzalez, a cousin of Ramos, said “I hope I can meet with [the gunman’s family] in some way and grieve together.” He then added, “I’d like to meet them and say, ‘Thank you for feeling sorry for us.'”

The man who police identified as the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, fled after the shooting and turned his weapon on himself in a nearby subway station.

Ramos’ family members said they are frustrated by the divisions between the public and police but that they don’t fault Mayor Bill de Blasio for the deaths of their loved one and officer Wenjian Liu, who was shot alongside Ramos, the New York Daily News reported.

Liu’s family has also spoken out. His widow, Pei Xia Chen, called for the public to unite in the face of the tragedy: “This is a difficult time for both of our families,” she said in an emotional news conference. “But we will stand together and we will get through this together.”

[New York Daily News]

Read next: Ray Kelly on Mayor de Blasio: ‘This Isn’t the Campaign’


Ray Kelly on Mayor de Blasio: ‘This Isn’t the Campaign’

Police Athletic League's 25th Annual Women of the Year Luncheon
Rob Kim—Getty Images Raymond "Ray" Kelly attends Police Athletic League's 25th Annual Women of the Year Luncheon at The Plaza Hotel on December 11, 2013 in New York City. (Rob Kim--Getty Images)

Former New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly held tenure under Mayor Michael Bloomberg from 2002-2013 and under Mayor David Dinkins from 1992-1994.

The former police chief on the murder of two NYPD officers, the Eric Garner case, and what Mayor de Blasio doesn't get about New York cops

Correction appended, Dec. 24, 2014

TIME: What did you think of the Mayor’s speech yesterday?

KELLY: I think he had good intentions. I believe that blaming the media was not the way to go, because, number one, it doesn’t work practically speaking. And secondly, I think the message that has been put out is pretty much an accurate one. The information put out by the media has pretty much been on target.

Some have said that the anti-police rhetoric of the recent protests may have contributed to this tragedy. Do you agree?

I think there’s no way of knowing. We don’t know what motivated this individual. But I would say that the mayor’s anti-policing stance in the campaign in 2013 had been continued. Part of his campaign was to emphasize the fact that his son had to “take care” in dealing with the police. This isn’t the campaign. Obviously he continued that message and said it again in the aftermath of the grand jury in Staten Island. But whether or not this contributed, we’ll never know, because obviously the perpetrator is dead here.

You’ve mentioned Mayor de Blasio ran an “anti-policing” campaign for Mayor. How does this rhetoric affect the way the public views police officers?

It’s interesting because there was a very low voter turnout in the 2013 election, but if you look at the polls, the police department had a 70% approval rating in 2013. I myself had a 75% approval rating. The police had 56% with African American communities. I myself had 63%. So those are very high numbers. Yet he started his campaign directed at policing and policing practices. He won the election, but on election day, we had a 65% approval rating. It’s almost as if he focused on the extremes of the party, he certainly did that as far as the primary is concerned. And in New York, because you have a 6-to-1 Democratic majority, winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to overall victory, absent a Michael Bloomberg with great resources.

In his remarks yesterday, the Mayor was careful to emphasize that the protests have been relatively peaceful so far, and that this was a very disturbed person who isn’t representative of the demonstrators. What would you say to that?

The demonstrations were peaceful because the police didn’t engage with the demonstrators for the most part. And they were allowed to take over bridges and roadways. So to the extent that they were allowed to do whatever they wanted to do, yeah, it was peaceful. Whether or not that’s the right thing to do—I mean, you can move people off of property without arresting them.

So do you think that the protests were only peaceful because of the police?

To a certain extent, yes. We saw the officers assaulted, injured, and I know there were a lot of reports of spitting and taunting, that sort of thing. So there certainly wasn’t overreaction on the part of the police.

What do you think of the officers who turned their back on the Mayor?

I think it was unfortunate. As city workers and police officers, they owe respect to the office of the Mayor. But I understand the emotion that was involved in it. We haven’t had anything like this happen in at least 25 years. These officers, the vast majority, were not in policing at that time. So this was a very traumatic, gut wrenching event for the department, and emotions were running high that night.

Do you agree with Pat Lynch that the officers’ blood “starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the Mayor?”

No, I think that is over the top. [Mayor de Blasio] is trying to do the job as he sees it. But I think words matter. And [de Blasio] hasn’t been as careful as he should have been with his rhetoric. The rhetoric that he used during the campaign, he’s still using when he’s trying to govern. So I think his words have gotten him into trouble, and hopefully this will be a learning experience for him. Some of his rhetoric has been careless, and some of the rhetoric that he used in the campaign he continues to use.

Much of the discussion of the fraught relationship between police and black communities has surrounded practices like stop-and-frisk. What would you say to those who paint stop-and-frisk as an example of racial profiling by the police?

There’s a tremendous amount of misinformation about stop-question-and-sometimes-frisk. We were never really able to get it out, it wasn’t properly introduced in the trial [that found the policy unconstitutional in 2013]. New York has a lower stop-rate than Philadelphia or Baltimore. The criteria recommended by the RAND Institute, is that it be the description of the perpetrators of violent crimes by victims of violent crimes. In other words, the government is left out of it. [The criteria] can’t be arrest data because that could be biased, it can’t be census data because logically, half your stops would be women, which makes no sense. The NYPD is by far the most diverse police department in the world, we have police officers born in 106 countries. Its police officer rank is majority minority. That information was not used in the trial. Also, crime data and the fact that New York last year had the lowest number of murders that we’ve had on record since at least 1961, when the National Crime Reporting system was put in place. And during the Bloomberg administration, there were 9,500 fewer murders than in the previous 12 years. So much information never made its way out concerning stop-and-frisk.

Do you think the Garner arrest was handled properly by the officers on the scene?

I think that obviously the grand jury looked at this, and I’m assuming there’s a motion to get all the information out. Admittedly the tape is disturbing. I believe that they looked at the tape frame by frame, and they made their conclusions. It’s not easy to arrest people. We’re going to have a departmental trial, so I don’t want to categorize it as being appropriate or not. It would be unfair for me to do that. And in a police department, ultimately all disciplinary decisions go through the police commissioner, so I think it would be unfair for me to comment on it.

More broadly, why do you think it is so rare for police officers to be indicted when someone unarmed is killed? It’s been a big conversation this year—how common it is for a civilian to be indicted, and how rare it is for a police officer. Why do you think it’s so difficult to indict cops?

In general terms, not talking about the specific cases, police officers are making split second decisions on what they perceive to be happening. Their perceptions could be wrong. When the business world makes mistakes, it costs money. When police officers make mistakes, it costs lives. And I think in grand juries across the country, there probably is a tendency to give police officers the benefit of the doubt, particularly when they’re reacting in their official capacity to a situation that they may not have all the information on.

Do they deserve the benefit of the doubt?

It depends on individual situations. You have to look at the fact that when they’re on duty, there’s a certain oath that they take. And it depends on individual circumstances, but I think in a general sense they probably do, given the fact that there are also civil remedies that are available to a plaintiff or a plaintiff’s family if the officer had been wrong. So there is an alternative. But police officers will probably get that benefit of the doubt in a grand jury setting.

What doesn’t this Mayor understand about the NYPD?

I don’t know what he understands or doesn’t understand, all I can tell you is what he said during his campaign. He talked about the fact that his son had to be careful interacting with [NYPD officers]. He talked about stop-question-and-frisk, but I don’t think he fully understood the nuances of it, or if he did he certainly didn’t talk about it. It’s certainly not the only tool in the toolbox, but it’s an important tool and New York City in most people’s minds, certainly in 2013, had never been safer. That feeling has certainly drifted in the last few months.

Why didn’t anything like this happen during 12 years of the Bloomberg administration?

I can only say that [during the Bloomberg administration] there was a lot of communication, there was a lot of interaction. If you look at Rev. Calvin Butts’s statement yesterday, he talks about the access that he had to me, access that he had to the mayor, saying he doesn’t have that access now. He’s a community leader, he’s an opinion former, he’s an important religious leader. And he may not always have positive things to say about the police, and I can assure you that was my interaction with him on many occasions, but I would like to think that we made ourselves available and listened to a broad spectrum of people. I would go to mosques every six weeks or so and have a town hall meeting, have people asking me questions, and I spent a lot of time in black churches. That’s what we did, and the mayor did essentially the same thing. I think the amount of interaction was important and the feeling of access was important.

It’s been such a tumultuous year for police in America, between the protests in Ferguson and what’s been happening in New York. What do you think is next?

I think we will get back to a more normal or traditional view of the police. I think certainly the Garner case and the Brown case have put a magnifying glass on police operations. Let’s assume that mistakes were made—they’re really a small number when you consider the citizen contacts that police engage in. In New York City, there are 23 million contacts a year between police and citizens. Over time people will come to realize that the work of the police and the quality of the work is generally speaking, very, very good in the United States. The policing that we do is the envy of the world, they come here to learn about how to police. Most countries are policing homogenous societies, and that’s not the case here. It’s very complex. And you have 18,000 law enforcement entities in this country, but somehow the system works pretty well. When you get a Garner case or a Michael Brown case, it distorts the view that most people have of the quality of policing that goes on in this country. And I think we will get back to understanding that over time.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Correction: The original version of this interview misstated the figure cited by Kelly on the NYPD’s approval rating among African Americans in 2013. The police had a 56% approval rating in New York City’s African-American community Kelly said, citing a Quinnipiac University poll.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME weather

Tornadoes, Rain and Snow Bring Holiday Travel Chaos

Getty Images

Dozens of flights were scrapped in Philadelphia and New York, and a tornado and hail watch was issued for parts of Alabama, Louisiana and Texas

Good luck getting home for Christmas.

Delays began piling up at East Coast airports on Tuesday because of a storm system packing strong winds, thunderstorms, snow and perhaps even a tornado or two. Another system is threatening rain and heavy snow in the Northwest and Rockies.

Dozens of flights were scrapped at Philadelphia International and at LaGuardia in New York, and delays ran as long as two hours.

Farther south, the National Weather Service posted a tornado watch for parts of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and warned of the possibility of 2-inch-wide hail. Roy Lucksinger, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel, said 3 to 5 inches of rain was possible across the South…

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

TIME Drugs

Meet the Man Behind Oregon’s New Legal Pot Market

Michael Schoenholtz Rob Patridge is chair of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the body that will oversee the creation of Oregon's market for recreational marijuana.

'We’ve been fortunate that we weren’t the pioneers'

When Oregon voters approved Measure 91 in the midterm elections, they became the latest to say that marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol. Now comes the enormous job of actually bringing the legal marijuana market to life.

The task falls to Rob Patridge, the chair of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, and its four volunteer commissioners. The group will be busy ahead of the Jan. 5, 2016 deadline for accepting applications from Oregonians who want to grow, process and sell marijuana. TIME spoke to Patridge, a former Republican state lawmaker and the current district attorney of Klamath County — proud home of Crater Lake — about his thoughts on edibles, when the market will realistically open and whether lawsuits like this one are a threat to the commission’s work.

What is your general philosophy for developing Oregon’s pot market?

We’re going out in late January and doing what we’re calling a listening tour. We’re going to go throughout Oregon to talk to the communities, local government, law enforcement, educators, the treatment community, the people who are invested in growing marijuana and selling marijuana. We’re going to listen to the impacts it’s going to have on the community and try to define how we’re going to move forward to address that as we put together the rules.

What issues do you expect to come up on this listening tour?

There’s been a lot of interest in stuff that the legislature may or may not address [like possibly allowing a special election for local jurisdictions to opt out of allowing pot shops]. There are concerns related to edibles and local government is very interested in public safety issues, how it’s going to interact with criminal laws. The issues are large but we’re going to try to break them down so we can eat the elephant one bite at a time rather than trying to eat the whole thing.

Edibles are proving to be controversial. People are concerned about kids accidentally ingesting them, wondering whether certain types should be banned. What are your thoughts about how to approach the issue?

The concern has certainly been raised, and we’re going to be proceeding with caution. I know there’s some legislative interest related to edibles. The legislature could mandate types. So the jury’s going to be out for a while … We’re watching what Colorado and Washington are doing. We’ve been in direct contact with the other states. We’ve reached out to Alaska. And we’re going to take some of our commissioners and staff there to talk about implementation. I’m not one to not learn from other people’s lessons.

At this point, do you think there are certain types of edibles that shouldn’t be on the market?

I don’t know that [certain types] should or shouldn’t be on the market. It’s about how they’re used and what’s responsible from a packaging standpoint, how they get labeled, those types of things.

In general, how is the situation going to be different in Oregon than in Washington or Colorado?

First, we’re not starting from zero. We already have a system in place for medical. We also have the benefit of seeing what’s gone on in Washington and Colorado, which they didn’t. We’re not plying new ground. The Colorado model is probably a better fit, because of how their medical marijuana is regulated. It’s similar to what we do. We’ve been fortunate that we weren’t the pioneers, even if we are the Pioneer State. We’re fortunate to gain from their knowledge, and they’ve been very free about sharing it.

What is your timeline for when legal shops will open their doors and the state will start collecting tax revenue?

We’re really on a fairly tight timeline. What I’m calling the “home grow provisions” [personal cannabis growing and possession becoming legal] come into effect July 1, 2015. Beyond that, we’ve got a whole set of rules we’ve got to deal with. We’ve got to set up a whole seed-to-sale system. And if the legislature changes the playing field, we’re going to be continually looking at that. Best case scenario, last half of 2016 before we’d be up and running. We’re trying to be very up front. A lot of people thought that in January 2016 these retail locations would pop up and people would go purchase marijuana. And that’s just not going to be the case.

The attorneys general in Oklahoma and Nebraska are suing Colorado over marijuana legalization, saying it violates the Supremacy Clause. How does that shape your thoughts about the nature of the market you’re setting up?

There’s the potential for a lot of legal challenges for Measure 91. Until it’s declared one way or another, we have to stay with what current law is. Our job under current law is to implement, and the court can do what it may. If it’s looks like it’s a substantial enough issue—if a judge issues a stay or something else happens—obviously we would work with the legislature to decide whether we should continue to spend the state’s money, of if they’d want us to wait until there was a legal resolution.

Is legal pot good for Oregon?

It’s my job to implement it as the chair of the commission. Voters made that decision. And as I’ve told everybody, I try to be a consensus builder. That’s my job, to create a process that’s transparent, that engages everybody. That’s really our role, and I’m not taking a policy position as the chair. Certainly there are arguments on all sides. It’s so early.

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