TIME energy

Most Americans Are Spending Less Than $2 Per Gallon for Gas

The average household will save $750 on gas this year

The price of gas is plummeting like a bungee jumper without a rope.

A majority of Americans are paying less than $2 per gallon for gas for the first time since 2009, and the ever-cheapening fuel it helping put more money in consumers’ pockets and bolster the economy. About 6 in 10 U.S. gas stations are selling a gallon of gas for under $2, according to AAA. The average gas price has dropped for a record 120 consecutive days to less than $2.04 a gallon. That’s the cheapest average in nearly six years.

American consumers will benefit immensely this year from the drop: The Department of Energy predicted last week that the average American household would spend about $750 less for gasoline in 2015 compared with last year.

“It’s crazy,” Michael Noel, an economics professor at Texas Tech University who studies oil and gasoline prices, told the Associated Press of the fuel price drop. “But for consumers it’s very, very good.”

MORE: The Cost of Cheap Gas

Lower fuel prices will also likely help the U.S. economy grow significantly this year. The World Bank expects the American economy to grow 3.2% this year, compared with 2.4% in 2014, and some forecasts are even higher.

The downside? Oil drillers and refineries in states like Texas and North Dakota are likely to suffer from lower gas prices. Layoffs of thousands of workers have begun in recent weeks.

TIME Environment

Official Wants Frozen to Teach Kids About Climate Change

FROZEN
Disney Arendelle

Apparently Disney didn't go for it

The U.S. special representative to the Arctic said this week that he told a Disney executive educators should use Frozen to teach kids about climate change—but the idea didn’t go over so well.

Admiral Robert Papp told an audience at this week’s Arctic Frontiers conference that after realizing his granddaughters were obsessed with Frozen, he approached Disney executives about making PSAs about climate change starring Anna and Elsa to raise awareness about the disappearing ice. “I said you’ve taught an entire generation about the Arctic,” Papp said he told the executive. “Unfortunately the Arctic that you’ve taught them about is a fantasy kingdom in Norway where everything is nice. What we really need to do is educate the American youth about the plight of the polar bear, about the thawing tundra, about Alaskan villages that run the risk of falling into the sea because of the lack of sea ice protecting their shores.”

Papp said the executive was receptive, but skeptical. “‘Admiral you might not understand, here at Disney it’s in our culture to tell stories that project optimism and have happy endings,'” he told him.

But who knows what’s in store for the rumored Frozen sequel that may or may-not be happening.

[h/t National Journal]

TIME Aviation

The TSA Seized a Record Number of Guns in 2014

TSA: How to Travel by Commercial Airflight With A Firearm
The Washington Post—Getty Images After filling out a brief disclosure form, commercial air flight travelers are allowed to transport unloaded firearms in locked, hard-sided cases as checked luggage only, as can be seen in props provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Dulles International Airport on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, in Washington, DC.

Security agents found six per day on average

The Transportation Security Administration kept especially busy in 2014: A record high of 2,212 guns were seized from carry-on luggage, marking a 22% increase over 2013 numbers.

The TSA found an average of more than six firearms per day, the agency said Friday, and of those seized, 83% were loaded. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport saw 120 guns seized, the most of any airport.

Passengers who try to bring firearms onto a plane in their carry-on bags can be arrested and criminally charged.

TIME 2016 Election

Jindal Blurs the Lines With Prayer Rally This Weekend

Bobby Jindal
John Minchillo—AP Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La. speaks in New York on Oct. 16, 2014.

It is no secret that Bobby Jindal is praying very seriously about a run for the White House. This weekend, his prayer will look a lot like a giant evangelical rally in Baton Rouge.

The governor of Louisiana is keynoting a six-hour worship gathering on Saturday called “The Response: A Call To Prayer For a Nation In Crisis” at Louisiana State University. The event, sponsored by the conservative and controversial American Family Association, aims to spiritually reawaken America in light of “unprecedented struggles” the country is facing: “financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters … fatherless homes, an epidemic of drugs and crime in our inner cities, a saturation of pornography in our homes, abortion, and racism.” The American Renewal Project, a non-profit spearheaded by conservative political operative David Lane that aims to get more Christians involved in politics, is also behind the event. Lane hopes to recruit 1,000 pastors to run for political office this campaign cycle. The Response coincides with the state’s Right to Life March, which is also happening Saturday on LSU’s campus and which Jindal is also keynoting. Together, the events are poised to draw thousands.

Organizers say the Response is purely about spiritual renewal, not politics. But from the get-go, those lines are blurred. Jindal invited 49 other governors to attend the Response. “This gathering will be apolitical in nature and open to all who would like to join us in humble posture before our Creator to intervene on behalf of our people and nation,” Jindal explained to the governors, in a letter obtained by the Christian Broadcasting Network. “There will only be one name lifted up that day–Jesus!”

The irony in the event has several layers. To begin, Jindal’s invitation to the governors, like most of the Response’s promotional materials, draws inspiration only from passages in the Hebrew Scriptures, what Christians call the Old Testament, to support an event aimed at lifting up Jesus Christ. His letter primarily cites the Hebrew prophet Joel, who likely lived in Judah during the Persian period of Jewish history (539-331 BC). Joel tells the Hebrew people to “declare a holy fast,” “call a solemn assembly,” and “summon the elders,” to “cry out to the Lord.” The Response organizers are trying to imitate those instructions with this event, but conflating Joel’s call to return to the Hebrew God with a contemporary evangelical call to return to Jesus changes the prophet’s original context and the significance of the words for today’s Jewish community.

Next, for the Hebrew prophet Joel, to call the elders is actually a political move, not just a spiritual one. The prophet goes on to lament a plague of locusts, that like an invading army that has destroyed his own nation’s fields and farming prospects. His call to God for aid is a political plea on behalf of his people. Jindal and fellow organizers are using a political Bible passage to promote an event that they say has a solely spiritual ambition. And yet, even as Jindal says the event is apolitical, he wrote an open invitation to the event on official state letterhead, and hosted 72 organizers for the event at the Governor’s mansion in December.

Perhaps most importantly, the Response in the United States is becoming more than a spiritual institution: It is a prelude to a presidential run. Five days after Rick Perry held a Response rally in August of 2011, he declared his candidacy for president. Neither Perry nor Jindal are evangelicals—Perry is a life-long Methodist and Jindal is Catholic—but for both, the Response event is a way to harness the spirituality of the conservative evangelical base for their own political ambitions. It is no small reward, either. Perry’s event drew some 30,000 people in Houston.

The Response may be the largest religious base Jindal is courting, but it is not the only one. After the Response, Jindal is headed to Naples to speak at the Legatus Summit, a annual conference for Catholic business leaders. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is speaking at the event, but Fox News’ Bret Baier and actor Gary Sinise withdrew their participation earlier this month due to controversy over the group’s opposition to gay marriage.

It is not surprising that Jindal would appeal to this conservative religious base. He is a Hindu convert and a Rhodes scholar biology major who supports creationism. He’s continually fought the courts and the Obama administration for his signature school voucher program that uses public dollars to pay for private and religious schooling. This week, he went after the U.S. House of Representatives for failing to pass an anti-abortion measure on the eve of the national March for Life. “It shouldn’t take a lot of political courage to stand up and say we are going to end late-term abortions in America,” Jindal told Fox News Thursday night.

Jindal has also been hammering radical Islam. During a 10-day economic and foreign policy trip to Europe, Jindal blasted so-called “no-go” zones, supposed communities in Europe where non-Muslims are not allowed and where sharia law runs rampant. Fox News later issued an apology for promoting the term, clarifying that no such zones exist. Jindal didn’t slow down. “Radical Islamists do not believe in freedom or common decency nor are they willing to accommodate them in any way and anywhere,” he said in a speech to the Henry Jackson Society in London. “We are fools to pretend otherwise. How many Muslims in this world agree with these radicals? I have no idea, I hope it is a small minority.” He added: “Let’s be honest here, Islam has a problem. If Islam does not support what is happening in the name of Islam, then they need to stand up and stop it.”

Jindal’s past history of blending of religious and political themes only makes it even more clear that the Response will not be strictly spiritual, despite what organizers say.

TIME Sex

How Birth Control Has Changed Over the Centuries

A history of contraception, in all its many forms

Birth control may still be a hot button issue today in some countries, but men and women have been using contraceptives for thousands of years, albeit with varied results.

In ancient China, a popular remedy involved drinking a cocktail of lead and mercury. In ancient Egypt, a paste made out of honey, sodium carbonate, and crocodile dung was a popular form of contraception.

However, not all historic forms of contraception were based on superstition. A prototype of the cervical cap has been in use since the 18th century, and cave drawings in France appear to show a version of a condom.

For much of the 19th and early 20th centuries women in the U.S. had a hard time getting their hands on effective contraception. Due to anti-obscenity laws, doctors were not allowed to spread information about birth control.

To compensate for the lack of official methods, household products like Lysol and Coca-Cola were often used, as they were believed to kill sperm.

In 1960 modern birth control was born, when the FDA approved the first oral contraceptive pill for women. Within 5 years, millions of American women had prescriptions for the pill. Today, 99% of women of child-bearing age say they have used some form of birth control.

However, universal access to birth control still does not exist worldwide. Some 220 million women from developing countries say they want to use birth control but don’t have access.

TIME Crime

California Teacher Defended Colleagues Accused of Having Sex With Pupils

Kids should have kept their “stupid mouths shut and enjoyed it,” he allegedly wrote on Facebook

A teacher has been placed on paid leave after allegedly writing on Facebook that students should not have complained about having sex with two female teachers at his school.

Sean Kane, a teacher at South Hills High School in West Covina, Calif., was put in administrative leave after appearing to defend his colleagues who have been arrested for allegedly having sex with students. A message allegedly appeared on his Facebook page saying the kids should have kept their “stupid mouths shut and enjoyed it,” the L.A. Times reports.

Kane’s colleagues Melody Lippert, 38, and Michelle Ghirelli, 30, were arrested Saturday on suspicion of having sex with students during a trip to a local beach, not sponsored by the school. Lippert is also accused of providing students with alcohol on the same beach on a separate occasion.

Some students at the high school have launched a social media campaign to get Kane back on the job, using the hashtag #FreeKane to express their support for the art teacher.

[L.A. Times]

TIME portfolio

The Best Pictures of the Week: Jan. 16 – Jan. 23

From escalating violence in eastern Ukraine and a thousands strong march in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala. to priests photographing Pope Francis in the Philippines and a surprising, glowing seascape in Hong Kong, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME weather

Brace Yourself: A Big Storm Is Coming to the East Coast

National Weather Service

Some regions may see a foot of snow

A nor’easter could wreak havoc all along the East Coast over the next 24 hours, with a mix of rain and snow that will likely cause airline and traffic delays along the I-81 and I-95 corridors.

Up to a foot of snow could accumulate in some locations, AccuWeather.com reports. Snow heavy with added rainfall could also bring down trees and power lines.

Check your local weather for specific predictions, and get ready for a good snow-shoveling workout.

[AccuWeather]

TIME People

Twin 9-Year-Old Boys Left Basically Alone for Months

An empty playground is seen at an apartment complex, Jan. 22, 2015, in Manchester, N.H. where authorities say twin 9-year-old boys were left mostly alone for four months after their parents took three siblings to Nigeria and left an uncle to care for them.
Jim Cole—AP An empty playground is seen at an apartment complex, Jan. 22, 2015, in Manchester, N.H. where authorities say twin 9-year-old boys were left mostly alone for four months after their parents took three siblings to Nigeria and left an uncle to care for them.

The boys were left to fend for themselves while an uncle only checked in every few days

Twin 9-year-olds were left virtually on their own for four months in a Manchester, N.H. apartment where an uncle would only occasionally check in on them.

The boys’ parents and three siblings left for Nigeria in July with the intention of returning the next month, but were delayed, the Associated Press reports. In the mean time, their 25-year-old uncle, Giobari Atura, was supposed to stay with the boys. Instead, he says he checked in on them every few days.

Police finally became involved in November when the boys’ school alerted them that they’d been living alone, getting themselves up in the morning and taking the bus to eat breakfast and lunch at school. The only edible food found in the apartment was ramen.

The twins were initially placed in foster care, but have now been returned to their parents, who came back to the U.S. shortly after learning of the situation. While Atura was charged with endangering the welfare of a child in December, the parents will not be charged since they left their sons in the care of a relative.

[AP]

Read next: Celiac Disease Among UK Kids Has Tripled

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Crime

This Fraternity Was Suspended After Completely Destroying a Ski Resort

The University of Michigan chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu is in big trouble

The national office of fraternity Sigma Alpha Nu has suspended the University of Michigan chapter after a ski weekend gone very, very bad.

Treetops Resort near Gaylord, Mich. suffered $50,000 in damages to walls, ceilings, windows, furniture and carpeting when 120 fraternity and sorority members ran amok last weekend, the Detroit Free Press reports. The fraternity could face criminal charges, but in the mean time, the university is investigating wrongdoing and chapter president Joshua Kaplan has said they will be “working with the management of the resort to pay for all damages and cleaning costs.”

Looks like this is one frat mess that can’t be cleaned up with a bucket full of sawdust.

[Detroit Free Press]

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