TIME Environment

Supreme Court Rules Against Homeowners in Toxic Water Case

Court says too much time has passed in North Carolina case for legal action against electronics company CTS Corp

The Supreme Court ruled against homeowners from North Carolina attempting to a sue an electronics company that contaminated their drinking water decades ago.

The court ruled that the state’s statute of repose, which states that a plaintiff loses the right to seek property damages 10 years after contamination occurred, should stand. The ruling is a setback for property owners in similar positions.

The case on Monday involved property owners living where CTS Corp. made electronics in 1987. The residents did not realize their water was contaminated with chemicals until 2009, the Associated Press reports. The chemicals in the water can cause health problems ranging from birth defects to cancers.

Homeowners argued that under federal environment laws, their case was still valid despite the statute of repose. The Supreme Court did not agree.

The ruling is a blow for U.S. Marines families involved in a separate case in Camp Lejeune, N.C. It’s estimated that up to 1 million people may have been exposed to contaminated groundwater over several decades in Camp Lejeune. The Associated Press says the U.S. government is relying on the same law to avoid liability for the contamination.

[AP]

 

TIME The Brief

Karachi Airport Attack Shows Reach of Pakistani Taliban

Welcome to #theBrief, the four stories to know about right now—from the editors of TIME

Here are the stories TIME is watching this Monday, June 9.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on Pakistan’s Karachi International Airport that left 29 dead, making a grave statement about their formidable terror capabilities.

2 police officers and 1 civilian are dead after a couple opened fire at a Walmart in Las Vegas, before apparently killing themselves. Witnesses heard them shouting “This is the start of a Revolution.”

Comedian Tracy Morgan remains in critical condition after a Walmart truck hit Morgan’s vehicle from behind early Saturday morning.

And finally, the Seattle Symphony likes big butts and it cannot lie. The classical music ensemble paired up with Sir-Mix-A-Lot to deliver a symphonic version of his racy 1992 hit “Baby Got Back.”

The Brief is published daily on weekdays.

TIME Transportation

Southwest Jet Gets Into a Fender-Bender With JetBlue Plane

No one was injured when a Southwest plane backed into an empty JetBlue aircraft just after 7 a.m. on Monday

A Southwest airliner backed into a JetBlue plane parked at Boston’s Logan International Airport on Monday.

Though both planes were damaged, no passengers were injured in the crash, CBS Boston reports. The wingtip of the Southwest Boeing 737 hit the Jetblue Airbus 320’s horizontal stabilizer just after 7 a.m.

Passengers onboard the Southwest plane described the incident as a “bump” and “vibration” to WBZ-TV.

A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Port Authority said the JetBlue plane wasn’t carrying any passengers when it was hit, while the Southwest plane was bound for Kansas City, NBC News reports.

“Our employees are working to get the 108 customers scheduled on the flight to Kansas City re-accommodated on other flights to complete their journey,” Southwest Airlines said in a statement to WBZ-TV. “The aircraft is out of service for repairs and inspections.”

Airport operations were not affected.

[CBS Boston]

TIME Environment

Carbon Regs Will Help Your Health More Than the Planet’s

EPA coal pollution
Carbon dioxide is the chief target of EPA regulations, but they'll also help curb conventional pollutants Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Public health—through cleaner air—will benefit more from EPA carbon rules than climate change, and that's O.K.

When the White House rolled out the proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on power-plant carbon emissions on June 2—regs that will reduce emissions 30% below 2005 levels—President Barack Obama attended a conference call with a number of public health groups, including the American Lung Association. Obama talked about the importance of treating carbon as a pollutant, of investments in energy efficiency that would cause electricity bills to shrink, of the momentum behind the move to a low-carbon economy.

But he spent much of his time talking about the health benefits that would come as the regulations cracked down on coal plant pollution:

“I got a letter from Dian Coleman, who is a mother of four. Her three kids have asthma. […] She keeps her home free of dust that can trigger asthma attacks. Cigarettes aren’t allowed across the threshold of her home. But despite all that, she can’t control the pollution that contributes potentially to her kids’ illnesses, as well as threatening the planet. We’ve got to make sure that we’re doing something on behalf of Dian, and doing it in a way that allows us also to grow the economy and get at the forefront of our clean energy future.”

Carbon dioxide isn’t a pollutant—at least, not in the sense that breathing it in damages health. (If it were, trees would be a lot more dangerous.) CO2 does cause climate change, which in turn can directly threat health by increasing ozone levels, intensifying heat waves and floods and even worsening allergies, all of which the White House detailed in a new report out today. But Obama and his officials have been talking up a different sort of public health benefit that will come with the regulations: the reduction of dangerous, conventional pollutants like nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide and simple soot. “Our role in this initiative is to protect public health and the environment,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told me in an interview last week. “It’s key in this rule that when we lower carbon, we reduce traditional pollutants.”

The EPA says that the regulations will reduce those conventional pollutants by more than 25% over the lifetime of the rules as a co-benefit. That in turn will avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children and nearly 500,000 missed work or school days. That might just be the beginning—the more we learn about air pollution, the more dangerous it seems even at lower levels. A new study from the University of Rochester found that exposure to air pollution at a young age caused changes in the brains of mice, including an enlargement in the parts of the brain that is seen in humans with autism and schizophrenia. And air pollution is still a major problem in the U.S.—a recent report from the American Lung Association found that nearly 5 in 10 Americans live in places where the air can be dangerous to breathe.

There’s an added political value to the White House’s focus on the public health benefits of carbon regulations. Note the huge partisan gap on the issue in recent polls: climate change, unfortunately, remains an area where there is deep political division. But air quality and public health is something that Americans can get together on, at least somewhat, without the conversation turning into a debate over temperature trends and IPCC assessments. That could help these regulations, which are supported by a strong majority of Americans, overcome kneejerk Republican opposition. “You don’t need to have a debate over climate change,” says Jim Brainard, the Republican mayor of Carmel, Indiana and a member of the White House task force on climate change. “Who doesn’t want to breathe clean air?”

As I wrote last week, the EPA regulations by themselves will have only a small impact on total U.S. carbon emissions, and a negligible one globally. The hope is that these rules are just the beginning, that they will help prompt other countries to push their own carbon-cutting efforts further, and encourage businesses to find even better ways to accelerate the clean energy revolution. But countless Americans will breathe easier—literally—thanks in part to these rules. That’s reason enough to celebrate.

MONEY Tourism

7 Cities Where the Sharing Economy Is Freshly Under Attack

140529_FF_NerdWallet_Lyft_1
A Lyft car operates in San Francisco. courtesy of Lyft

As Uber, Lyft, and airbnb expand around the globe, even smaller cities like Grand Rapids are feeling forced to regulate sharing economy businesses.

Big cities such as San Francisco and New York have been confronting the unusual tax and regulatory conundrums posed by sharing economy businesses like Lyft, Uber, and Airbnb for years. Now it’s Grand Rapids’ turn.

As rideshare services like Uber and Lyft expand rapidly around the globe, and as short-term rental operations like airbnb grow to the point of being genuine competitors to hotels, local officials don’t quite know what to make of them—and the kneejerk reaction of regulators is often to side with the tradition businesses these sharing economy services intend to disrupt.

It hasn’t helped that sharing economy businesses have been featured in a string of ugly incidents lately. There was the “XXX Freak Fest” orgy that took place when an unsuspecting tenant rented out his New York City apartment on airbnb last Month. Then there was an Uber driver accused of assault in Oklahoma City, and another Uber driver in San Francisco who was charged with hitting a passenger, and who was found to have convictions for felony drug dealing and misdemeanor battery, despite being subjected to Uber’s background check.

What’s more, no fewer than 14 states have issued warnings–fairly vague, sometimes misleading, but still scary warnings–about the insurance risks in driving or being a passenger in rideshare operations. The companies whose business models are being threatened by the sharing economy are taking action too: In Las Vegas, for instance, a local cab company posted a memo warning that it would terminate any “driver that picks up a passenger using an Uber, Lyft or Sidecar application” in a company taxi or limo. And even cities that seem more open to rideshare businesses sometimes aren’t entirely on board with how these tech companies operate. The Times-Picayune reported that the New Orleans city council is discussing new regulations that would allow Uber’s ridesharing service, but would keep certain taxi rules–such as $25 minimums for luxury sedan rides–that defy “Uber’s insistence on open market pricing.”

As for individual cities in the U.S. and Europe that are stepping up efforts to rein in or ban sharing economy businesses entirely, here are seven hot spots:

Albuquerque, New Mexico
In late May, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted unanimously to order the ridesharing service Lyft to cease operations in the state. Why? The same reason most often cited against ridesharing companies: They’re accused of being commercial taxi services whose drivers don’t have the appropriate licenses and certificates, and who haven’t paid the same fees as taxis. The commission warned Lyft and its drivers that each violation is subjected to a fine up to $10,000.

Barcelona, Spain
After being pressured by taxi companies and hotels, among others, officials in Barcelona are trying to crack down on Uber and airbnb and other sharing economy businesses, with tough fines for unlicensed drivers and a temporary freeze on licenses for owners who want to rent apartments as tourist lodging.

Brussels, Belgium
Uber launched in Brussels in February, and in April, officials banned the service in the city, threatening to hit drivers with a €10,000 fine for picking up a passenger via the app.

Buffalo, New York
A month after Lyft introduced its rideshare service in Buffalo in late April, the city’s director of permits and inspections recommended that police issue summonses to Lyft drivers, who he has determined to be the equivalent of unlicensed livery cab drivers. He also threatened that cars used in rideshare operations could be impounded.

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Strict new regulations are being proposed for owners who want to rent rooms via airbnb or other short-term services. If accepted, a homeowner would have to pay $291 for a license, the home must be owner-occupied in order to advertise room rentals (i.e., no vacation rentals), and only one room in the home can be rented at a time. Also, the city would grant no more than 200 licenses, and owners would have to notify all neighbors within 300 feet of the property about the rental situation. As tough as these rules seem, they could have been worse: A year ago, Grand Rapids was suggesting that homeowners would have to pay $2,000 for a license to advertise and rent via airbnb.

Kansas City, Missouri
Police began issuing tickets to Lyft drivers in Kansas City soon after the service was launched in late April. City officials had deemed that the rideshare service was illegal because drivers hadn’t gone through the training and certification required of taxi drivers. After some legal maneuvering, Lyft is still in action in the city, and a lengthy court battle is expected before the situation is settled.

Malibu, California
The Malibu city council recent voted in favor of issuing subpoenas to over 60 short-term lodging rental websites, including airbnb, according to the Los Angeles Times. There are hundreds of ads for short-term vacation rentals in Malibu, but only around 50 are officially registered with the city and pay the same 12% tax that hotels pay. Officials want to make sure that the city isn’t missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes from other rentals. They’re also hoping to crack down on the “party house” atmosphere in neighborhoods that have become popular for vacation rentals.

TIME White House

Obama Looks to Reduce Student Loan Payments

A plan would cap student loan payments for five million graduates at 10 percent of their monthly income, expanding on a 2010 law

President Barack Obama will take executive action Monday to reduce ballooning student loan payments for millions of Americans, as part of a plan to ease the economic effects of massive student loan debt.

The plan will cap borrowers’ repayments at 10 percent of their monthly income, officials said, expanding on a 2010 law and providing relief for about five million people who took out loans before October 2007 or stopped borrowing by October 2011.

The executive action takes new steps to “further lift the burden of crushing student loan debt,” the White House said, and is part of Obama’s effort to circumvent Republican opposition in a midterm election year.

“From reforming the student loan system and increasing Pell Grants to offering millions of students the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments at 10 percent of their income, making a degree more affordable and accessible has been a longtime priority for the President,” the White House said in a statement. “But he knows there is much more work to do and that’s what this week is all about.”

Economists say the more than $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt is burdening the economy, limiting graduates’ ability to buy cars, take out mortgages and spend money to spur the economy. The average student who graduates with outstanding loans is $29,400 in debt.

Other parts of the plan include teaming up with Intuit, Inc. and H&R Block, two of the U.S.’s largest tax preparation firms, to implement student loan repayment option and pilot a program to test the effectiveness of student loan counseling, among other measures.

Under the plan, a 2009 graduate with a student loan debt of $26,500 who earns $39,000 a year as a fourth year teacher would see an annual reduction of $1,500 in annual loan payments.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has sponsored a bill that would allow about 25 million Americans to refinance federal and private loans at lower interest rates. The legislation would cost the government $58 billion over 10 years and raise $72 billion through a new tax on high-income earners, the New York Times reports.

The President’s executive action would be a backstop if the bill does not make it through the Senate and the Republican-controlled House. “Even though our bill goes further, the President’s action means something will be done even if Republicans block it,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

House Speaker John Boehner said the executive action would do little to make college more affordable. “Today’s much-hyped loophole closure does nothing to reduce the cost of pursuing a higher education, or improve access to federal student loans – nor will it help millions of recent graduates struggling to find jobs in the Obama economy,” he said.

TIME China

China to Attend U.S.-Hosted Naval Drill for First Time

A Chinese navy vessel fires its cannon during the Joint Sea-2014 naval drill outside Shanghai on the East China Sea
A Chinese navy vessel fires its cannon during a naval drill outside Shanghai in the East China Sea on May 24, 2014 China Daily Infor—REUTERS

The move comes after the Pentagon released a controversial report detailing rocketing military spending by Beijing

China confirmed on Monday its attendance at the U.S.-hosted Rim of the Pacific international naval exercises (RIMPAC) for the first time.

Beijing will send two warships, a supply ship, a hospital ship and two helicopters to the world’s largest maritime drill held in waters near the U.S. island of Guam later this month, reports Reuters.

According to China’s official armed-forces newspaper, the People’s Liberation Army Daily, its navy will participate in exercises including diving drills, cannon firing and naval-security practices.

Beijing’s decision to join RIMPAC comes amid rising tensions between the two superpowers, triggered by territorial disputes with regional U.S. allies, cyber-espionage allegations and a Pentagon report that estimated China’s military spending at nearly $150 billion last year. China’s Defense Ministry lambasted the Pentagon last week for warning that Beijing is boosting its military agenda.

[Reuters]

TIME Aging

The World’s Oldest Man Has Died at 111

The New York City resident attributed his long life to a healthy diet and abstinence from alcohol

Alexander Imich of New York City died peacefully Sunday morning at the age of 111, according to friends.

Imich attained the title of world’s oldest man in April, and attributed his long life to a healthy diet and abstinence from alcohol, according to NBC 4 New York.

“I don’t know, I simply didn’t die earlier,” he told the television station last month. “I have no idea how this happened.”

Like many centenarians, Imich’s early life spanned various conflicts. Born in Poland on Feb. 4, 1903, he fled with his wife in 1939 after Nazi Germany invaded the country. They settled in the U.S. in the 1950s.

While Imich was the world’s oldest man, he was far from the oldest person. At least 65 women outranked him on that score, according to Gerontology Research, with 116-year-old Misao Okawa of Japan topping the list. The new world’s oldest man, 111-year-old Sakari Momoi, is also Japanese.

[NBC 4 New York]

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Book-Tour Overload: Just Don’t Call It a Campaign

The campaign-that-is-not-a-campaign is kicking into high gear

Sixteen months after leaving the State Department and six months before she decides whether to run for President again, Hillary Clinton is undertaking a rollout worthy of the highest office.

It officially begins Tuesday, when her book Hard Choices hits stores and mailboxes across the country by the hundreds of thousands. But you can also say it began a year ago, when Clinton began hitting the lucrative speaking circuit. And there’s of course been the carefully targeted leaks of nuggets from the book and media interviews. In many ways, the next few weeks are just more of the same: there will be lots more public speaking, as well as a campaign-style bus, courtesy of Ready for Hillary, the Clinton-insider sanctioned super PAC laying the groundwork for a campaign. In just about every way, it appears to be the continuation of a campaign that began the moment she left the Obama Administration. But Clinton says pay no attention — she has not yet made up her mind. “The time for another hard choice will come soon enough,” she writes in her book, a copy of which was reviewed by TIME.

So the campaign-that-is-not-a-campaign rolls on.

On Monday night, ABC News will air an hour-long prime-time special with Clinton interviewed by Diane Sawyer, followed Tuesday morning with a live interview on Good Morning America with Robin Roberts. It’s an arrangement similar to that negotiated by former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton when they released their memoirs.

Hillary Clinton’s book isn’t a memoir in the traditional sense, but rather a delicately curated account of her time at the State Department clearly aimed at shoring up her vulnerabilities in preparation for a possible presidential campaign. It is filled with behind-the-scenes tales of meetings with foreign leaders and modestly revelatory insights into the Obama Administration’s inner sanctum. There is her long-delayed apology for her vote for the Iraq War, but more often than not the book presents her as a levelheaded decisionmaker, whose foreign policy recommendations were right, even if sometimes unheeded by President Barack Obama, her onetime rival.

The book closes with an outline of the economic challenges facing the nation, a tacit acknowledgement that foreign policy has faded on the public’s list of presidential priorities. Its release comes as Clinton has worked to align herself, at least rhetorically, with her party’s populist wing, delivering a rousing critique of rising income inequality last month in a speech at the New America Foundation in Washington.

Clinton will kick off the book tour with a stop at the Union Square Barnes & Noble bookstore in New York City, followed by a paid speech to the United Fresh Produce Association and Food Marketing Institute in her hometown of Chicago. On Wednesday morning, she will be interviewed by a former aide to both her husband and Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The subsequent days will take her from Toronto to Austin, and next week she will tape a town-hall-style event airing on CNN at the Newseum in Washington. At no fewer than eight locations, she will be trailed by the Ready for Hillary bus and its volunteers.

There’s even a counter-narrative, offered in the 112-page e-book Failed Choices authored by Republican research outfit America Rising that will be released later this week.

In the book and on television, Clinton says she has not made up her mind about another run for the White House. But that won’t stop her from already doing everything that a full-bore candidate for President would do at this point in the 2016 election cycle.

TIME Crime

2 Cops Killed in Las Vegas Shooting

Two suspects reportedly screamed “this is a revolution” before killing two cops and a third person, and then themselves

Updated 7:14 a.m. E.T. on June 9

A married couple screamed “this is a revolution” before killing two police officers in Las Vegas on Sunday, authorities said, in a shooting rampage that ultimately left five people dead, including the suspects.

Police said the two suspects walked into a pizza restaurant and yelled about a “revolution” before killing the two officers—Alyn Beck, 42, and Igor Soldo, 32—who were having lunch at the establishment. The suspects later fled to a nearby Walmart were they killed one bystander before taking their own lives in what authorities said appears to have been part of a suicide pact.

“What precipitated this event, we do not know,” Sheriff Douglas Gillespie told the Las Vegas Sun. “My officers were simply having lunch when the shooting started.”

The investigation into the shootings was ongoing late on Sunday. CNN, citing an unnamed law enforcement source, reports the couple had extremist views toward police. The The Las Vegas Review-Journal, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, reports that the shooters draped their bodies in cloth displaying a Revolutionary War-era flag and that investigators also found materials associated with white supremacist groups.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser