TIME Education

Robert Redford to Grads: ‘Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Risk’ in a ‘Rough’ World

The 78-year-old actor, filmmaker and activist spoke to 483 graduates of Colby College on Sunday

Robert Redford didn’t hold back when he gave the commencement speech at Maine’s Colby College on Sunday.

The two-time Academy Award winner warned the class of 2015, “You’re stepping into a world that’s, well, pretty rough. It’s pretty chaotic, pretty divisive. You’ve got climate change, you’ve got debt, you’ve got wars, you’ve got political paralysis. It’s kind of a grim story.”

“But the story, I think, can be retold,” he added, “and I really believe that you’re the ones to do it.”

The iconic actor, filmmaker, environmentalist and political activist called on the 483 Colby College graduates to be fearless in the face of these challenges, and to help foster “collaboration and connection,” not only between people, but between people and the environment, the Associated Press reports.

“Don’t be afraid to take a risk, don’t be afraid of failure, be bold,” he told the crowd.

Redford, 78, whose grandson was among the class of 2015, also received an honorary fine arts degree from the school before an audience of thousands on Sunday.

As a young man, the star attended the University of Colorado on a baseball scholarship but dropped out during his sophomore year. He later took classes at Pratt Institute and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Immigration

White House Hits Back at Appeals Court After Immigration Ruling

"Today, two judges of the Fifth Circuit chose to misinterpret the facts and the law"

The Obama Administration said it is weighing its options in the wake of an appeals court ruling that kept a block on the president’s executive action on immigration.

On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to lift an injunction of the president’s action to grant millions of undocumented immigrants temporary reprieve from deportation.

Texas and twenty-five other states are suing the Obama administration over the president’s immigration plan, and a federal judge in Texas blocked the action temporarily in February.

The appeals court on Tuesday rejected the federal government’s argument that the temporary hold is a threat to national security, but the White House accused judges of choosing to incorrectly apply the law. “Today, two judges of the Fifth Circuit chose to misinterpret the facts and the law in denying the government’s request for a stay,” spokesperson Brandi Hoffine said.

“The President’s actions were designed to bring greater accountability to our broken immigration system, grow the economy, and keep our communities safe. They are squarely within the bounds of his authority and they are the right thing to do for the country.”

The lone dissenter on the three-judge panel, Judge Higgison, defended the president’s action, saying that deportation deferrals have existed “for half a century” and that it wasn’t the judicial branch’s place to intervene.

The Department of Justice is evaluating the ruling and considering the appropriate next steps. It’s not immediately clear whether it will appeal. Though the appeals court decided not to remove the temporary block on the immigration plan, the Fifth Circuit Court has yet to rule on whether or not 26 states were right in their initial suit against the President’s order.

The order, it said in a statement, “is consistent with laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as five decades of precedent by presidents of both parties who have used their authority to set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws.”

 

TIME Crime

Thieves Stole 100,000 People’s Tax Info From IRS

The stolen information includes tax returns

(WASHINGTON)—The IRS says thieves used an online service provided by the agency to gain access to information from more than 100,000 taxpayers.

The information included tax returns and other tax information on file with the IRS.

In a statement Tuesday, the IRS said the thieves accessed a system called “Get Transcript.” In order to access the information, the thieves cleared a security screen that required knowledge about the taxpayer, including the Social Security number, date of birth, tax filing status and street address.

The IRS said thieves targeted the system from February to mid-May. The service has been temporarily shut down.

Tax returns can include a host of personal information that can help someone steal an identity, including Social Security numbers and birthdates of dependents and spouses.

TIME Immigration

Federal Appeals Court Refuses to Lift Ban on President Obama’s Immigration Plan

US Immigration Relief
Mary Altaffer—AP Demonstrators chant slogans during a National Day of Action to #Fight4DAPA rally on May 19, 2015, in New York.

The plan could shield as many as 5 million immigrants illegally living in the U.S. from deportation

(NEW ORLEANS) — A federal appeals court refused Tuesday to lift a temporary hold on President Barack Obama’s executive action that could shield as many as 5 million immigrants illegally living in the U.S. from deportation.

The U.S. Justice Department had asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a Texas judge who agreed to temporarily block the president’s plan in February, after 26 states filed a lawsuit alleging Obama’s action was unconstitutional. But two out of three judges on a court panel voted to deny the government’s request.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the government would appeal, either to the full appeals court in New Orleans or to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The states suing to block the plan, led by Texas, argue that Obama acted outside his authority and that the changes would force them to invest more in law enforcement, health care and education. But the White House has said the president acted within his powers to fix a “broken immigration system.”

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sided with the states and, from his court in Brownsville, Texas, issued a temporary injunction on Feb. 16 to block the plan from taking effect while the lawsuit works its way through the courts.

Justice Department lawyers sought a stay while they appealed the injunction. They argued that keeping the temporary hold interfered with the Homeland Security Department’s ability to protect the U.S. and secure the nation’s borders. They also said immigration policy is a domain of the federal government, not the states.

But, in Tuesday’s ruling, 5th Circuit judges Jerry Smith and Jennifer Walker Elrod denied the stay, saying in an opinion written by Smith, that the federal government lawyers are unlikely to succeed on the merits of that appeal. Judge Stephen Higginson dissented.

Obama announced the executive action in November, saying lack of action by Congress forced him to make sweeping changes to immigration rules on his own. Republicans said Obama overstepped his presidential authority.

The first of Obama’s orders — to expand a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — was set to take effect Feb. 18. The other major part, extending deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years, had been scheduled to begin May 19.

Hanen issued his injunction believing that neither action had taken effect. But the Justice Department later told Hanen that more than 108,000 people had already received three-year reprieves from deportation as well as work permits. Hanen said the federal government had been “misleading,” but he declined to sanction the government’s attorneys.

The Justice Department has also asked the 5th Circuit to reverse Hanen’s overall ruling that sided with the states. A decision on that appeal, which will be argued before the court in July, could take months.

Along with Texas, the states seeking to block Obama’s action are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

TIME justice

Cleveland Agrees to Strict New Policing Rules After Federal Probe

Cleveland Police Shooting
John Minchillo—AP Riot police stand in formation as a protest forms against the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a patrolman charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects, on May 23, 2015, in Cleveland.

New agreement with Justice Department would curtail use of excessive force, and encourage a more diverse police department

The Cleveland Police Department agreed Tuesday to strict, legally binding new regulations, after a Justice Department probe found it had regularly used unnecessarily excessive force.

The department agreed to close oversight from an independent monitor, pledged to overhaul its use of force regulations, and said it would develop a recruitment policy to attract a more diverse force. The city will also create a Community Police Commission, made up of representatives from across the community as well as police representatives.

The new agreement with the DoJ, which will be enforceable in court, is the response to the Justice Department investigation begun in 2013, which concluded in December that the Cleveland Police Department regularly engaged in a pattern of excessive force.

“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that every American benefits from a police force that protects and serves all members of the community,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch in a statement. “The agreement we have reached with the city of Cleveland is the result of the hard work and dedication of the entire Cleveland community, and looks to address serious concerns, rebuild trust, and maintain the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.”

U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach of the Northern District of Ohio said he thinks this agreement can serve as “an example of what true partnership and hard work can accomplish – a transformational blueprint for reform that can be a national model for any police department ready to escort a great city to the forefront of the 21st Century.”

The announcement comes in the wake of widespread unrest in Cleveland following the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a Cleveland police officer who was charged with manslaughter after he climbed on the roof of an unarmed black couple’s car and fired at least 15 shots at close range, killing them both.

In total, Brelo and his fellow officers fired more than 100 shots in eight seconds at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams after pursuing them in a high-speed chase for 22 miles. After the verdict was announced Saturday, protestors took to the streets of Cleveland, demanding justice and reform.

TIME Connecticut

Yale Student Jumps to Death After Stabbing Fellow Student

The stabbing victim was in stable condition

(NEW HAVEN, Conn.)—Police say a Yale University student jumped to his death from the ninth floor of an off-campus apartment building moments after stabbing a fellow student.

New Haven police say it happened around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday at an apartment complex across the street from the Ivy League campus.

Officials say the suspect fell six stories onto a third-floor terrace. His name is being withheld pending notification of his family.

Police say 21-year-old stabbing victim Alexander Michaud is in stable condition at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Officials say the men were acquaintances and Yale students.

A Yale spokesman had no immediate comment.

Authorities haven’t released details of what happened before the stabbing and jump.

TIME Texas

Floodwaters Deepen in Houston After City Gets More Rain

At least 14 killed by the holiday weekend storms in Texas and Oklahoma

(HOUSTON) — Floodwaters deepened across much of Texas on Tuesday as storms dumped almost another foot of rain on the Houston area, stranding hundreds of motorists and inundating the famously congested highways that serve the nation’s fourth-largest city.

Meanwhile, the search went on for at least 13 people who were still missing, including a group that disappeared after a vacation home was swept down the river and slammed into a bridge.

Several more fatalities were reported — four in Houston and one more in Central Texas. That brought to 14 the number of people killed by the holiday weekend storms in Texas and Oklahoma.

The water rose sharply overnight as about 11 more inches of rain fell, much of it in a six-hour period. By Tuesday evening, most rivers had receded back within their banks.

The floodwaters affected virtually every part of the city and paralyzed some areas. Firefighters carried out more than 500 water rescues, most involving stranded motorists. At least 2,500 vehicles were abandoned by drivers seeking higher ground, officials said.

“Given the magnitude and how quickly it happened, in such a short period of time, I’ve never seen this before,” said Rick Flanagan, Houston’s emergency management coordinator.

The drenching weather threatened to linger. Forecasts called for a 20 to 40 percent chance of thunderstorms through the rest of the week in Houston.

The flooding closed several highways, and the ones that stayed open became a gridlocked mess.

Interstate 45 near downtown was backed up for miles on Tuesday morning, and a handful of motorists traveled the wrong way on the highway to retreat from high water.

The small cars weaved between massive 18-wheelers as other drivers stared at them in disbelief. With no end to the backup in sight, some drivers got off the freeway, only to be held up again by water covering nearby access roads.

In the Heights neighborhood about 5 miles from downtown, groups of people roamed the streets after escaping their stalled cars, and police cruisers blocked some dangerous roads.

Some motorists were stuck on I-45 all night, sleeping in their cars until the backup was cleared about 8 a.m.

NBA fans at the Toyota Center, where the Rockets hosted a Western Conference finals game against Golden State on Monday, were asked with about two minutes left in the game not to leave the arena because of the severe weather.

The game ended before 11 p.m., but about 400 people remained in their seats at 1:30 a.m., choosing to stay in the building rather than brave the flooded roads that awaited them outside.

A spokeswoman for the flood district of Harris County, which includes Houston, said up to 700 homes sustained some level of damage.

Yesenia Lopez and husband, Armando, waded through knee-deep water, carrying bags of possessions over their heads. During the night, a nearby bayou overflowed and flooded their apartment complex.

“We tried to do as much as we could, saved the family portraits and stuff like that, but everything else is destroyed,” she said.

The two planned to stay with her mother-in-law.

Dripping with water, she said: “Everything is scary. That’s the first time I lived through something like this, so it gives you a lot to think about.”

Officials in Hays County, about 180 miles west of Houston, said 30 people who had been reported as missing were accounted for by mid-afternoon Tuesday.

Crews were also searching for victims and assessing damage just across the Texas-Mexico border in Ciudad Acuna, where a tornado killed 13 people Monday.

Some of the worst flooding in Texas was in Wimberley, a popular tourist town along the Blanco in the corridor between Austin and San Antonio. That’s where the vacation home was swept away.

The “search component” of the mission ended Monday night, meaning no more survivors were expected to be found, said Trey Hatt, a spokesman for the Hays County Emergency Operations Center.

Eight of those missing from the destroyed house were friends and family who had gathered for the holiday, said Kristi Wyatt, a spokeswoman for the City of San Marcos. She said three more were members of another family in a separate situation. An unrelated person was also missing, Wyatt said.

Young children were believed to be among the missing.

The Blanco crested above 40 feet — more than triple its flood stage of 13 feet. The river swamped Interstate 35 and closed parts of the busy north-south highway. Rescuers used pontoon boats and a helicopter to pull people out.

Hundreds of trees along the Blanco were uprooted or snapped, and they collected in piles of debris up to 20 feet high.

The deaths in Texas included a man whose body was pulled from the Blanco; a 14-year-old who was found with his dog in a storm drain; a high school senior who died after her car was caught in high water; and a man whose mobile home was destroyed by a reported tornado.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management also reported four fatalities between Saturday and Monday after severe flooding and reports of tornadoes.

In Ciudad Acuna, Mayor Evaristo Perez Rivera said 300 people were treated at local hospitals after the twister, and up to 200 homes had been completely destroyed in the city of 125,000 across from Del Rio, Texas.

Thirteen people were confirmed dead — 10 adults and three infants, including one that was ripped from its mother’s arms by the storm.

___

Associated Press writers David Warren and Jamie Stengle in Dallas and photographer David J. Phillip in Houston contributed to this report.

TIME National Security

Police Briefly Evacuate U.S. Capitol

The visitors' center was evacuated as well

(WASHINGTON)—Police briefly evacuated hundreds of workers and tourists from the U.S. Capitol and its adjacent visitors’ center on Tuesday in a problem officials tentatively blamed on a faulty exhaust fan in a visitor center kitchen.

Within an hour after alarms sounded, employees returned to the building. Tourists were readmitted shortly after that.

Lawmakers are in recess this week for the weeklong Memorial Day break.

The U.S. Capitol Police told congressional workers in an email that two alarms were triggered in the visitors’ center, which they said was apparently caused by “a known problem with environmental controls with the kitchen exhaust fan.” It provided no additional detail.

Kimberly Schneider, a Capitol Police spokeswoman, said there were no signs of smoke or fire. An email sent later to House staff by the chamber’s sergeant at arms office said the triggering of alarms “was most likely caused by smoke in the kitchen; there was no fire.”

The evacuation occurred two days after a bomb squad destroyed a pressure cooker found in an unattended, “suspicious” vehicle on the National Mall near the Capitol and the vehicle’s Virginia owner was arrested. Almost six weeks earlier, a Florida man was arrested after he flew his gyrocopter through restricted air space and onto the Capitol grounds.

In Tuesday’s incident, police cleared the East Lawn and closed First Street between the Capitol and the Library of Congress until the buildings were reopened.

Denise Grandits of Buffalo, New York, said she and 70 eighth-graders were touring the Capitol and heard the alarms. She said the guide escorted them out of the building.

“We just walked. It was pretty calm,” she said.

According to the police email, officials initially thought one of the two triggered alarms was in the Capitol and they began evacuating that building.

In a moment of confusion, police soon advised people in the Capitol that they could remain inside because the alarms were not coming from that building. They reversed themselves again minutes later and resumed evacuating the Capitol.

The police email said once officials determined both alarms were in the visitor center, they decided to continue emptying the Capitol “to ensure staff and members did not receive conflicting information.”

TIME Transportation

New Amtrak Cameras Will Monitor Train Engineers Following Derailment

Amtrak Resumes Service On Busy Northeast Corridor After Deadly Train Crash
Alex Wong—Getty Images An Amtrak train arrives at Union Station on May 18, 2015 in Washington.

Safety officials have been recommending cameras for years

Amtrak said Tuesday it would install inward-facing cameras on locomotive cabs after a train derailment earlier this month killed 8 people and wounded about 200 others.

The cameras, which the National Transportation Safety Board has been recommending for years, would record the actions of train engineers and could help explain accidents like the one on May 12. Trains currently have black boxes and outward-facing cameras, but neither record the actions of the people driving the train. The NTSB has been recommending sound recorders in locomotive cabs since the 1990s, the Associated Press reports, and five years ago added that there should be video recorders as well. Amtrak will start by equipping 70 trains that service the Northeast Corridor, with 38 cameras installed by the end of the year.

Northeast Regional train 188 was speeding at 106 mph around a curve where the speed limit was 50 mph when it derailed. Brandon Bostian, the train’s engineer, has said through his lawyer that he has no recollection of the crash, possibly because of a concussion he sustained when he hit his head.

“Inward-facing video cameras will help improve safety and serve as a valuable investigative tool, ” Amtrak President & CEO Joe Boardman said in a statement. “We have tested these cameras and will begin installation as an additional measure to enhance safety.”

 

TIME natural disaster

Witness the Aftermath of Severe Floods in Texas

Texas expanded its state of disaster declaration on Monday following unprecedented torrential rains over the weekend. On Tuesday, more than 30 million Americans were warned to brace for extreme weather, including flooding, hail and tornadoes

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