An Ohio middle school is requiring all students to be drug tested before participating in extracurricular activities — including non-athletic activities like the yearbook club. School officials say the testing discourages drug use, but some parents are outraged. "It's easy to pee in a cup, but giving up your constitutional rights just because you can doesn't mean you should," said one parent. Samantha Rollins
The first public hearing for the six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray was held this morning to determine whether the case should be dismissed, whether the officers should be tried together, and whether State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby will stay on the case.
Outside the Circuit Courthouse, protesters have assembled, chanting "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!" and "No justice, no peace!"
— KnightfromABC2 (@Knightfromabc2) September 2, 2015
The assembly has been peaceful, and so far only one protester has been arrested after allegedly attempting to block traffic. Live updates on the hearing and protests are available from the Baltimore Sun here. Bonnie Kristian
Will Smith has a big new movie about football's concussion problem — but Sony softened the script to avoid angering the NFL
The new movie Concussions apparently doesn't live up to its tagline: "Nothing hits harder than the truth."
The Will Smith–starring movie set out to highlight the unsettling issues surrounding the NFL's concussion problem. But emails uncovered by hackers reveal that Sony ultimately opted to pull its punches, lest the NFL get too upset, a report from The New York Times, based on emails uncovered by hackers, reveals.
One email said "'unflattering moments for the N.F.L.' were deleted or changed." In another email, a Sony lawyer says that "most of the bite" was taken out of the movie "for legal reasons with the N.F.L. and it was not a balance issue." Other messages detailed marketing tactics, including positioning the film and Smith "as not anti football" and specifying that Smith "isn't planning to be a spokesman for what football should or shouldn't be but rather is an actor taking on an exciting challenge." Another executive wrote: "We'll develop messaging with the help of N.F.L. consultant to ensure that we are telling a dramatic story and not kicking the hornet's nest."
While the NFL is more popular and more profitable than ever, the league has also been grappling with a major concussion problem for years. The NFL has already agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to several thousand retired players who sued the league for allegedly covering up the potentially lethal dangers of a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to football's repetitive head trauma. In Concussions, which comes out in December, Will Smith's character discovers that very disease. Watch the trailer below. Becca Stanek
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) has become the crucial 34th senator to pledge to support the nuclear deal with Iran, ensuring that President Obama will have enough votes to uphold his veto in the event that a Republican-backed resolution against the deal lands on his desk later this month. The deal between Iran, the U.S., and five other world powers relieves sanctions on Iran in exchange for the nation limiting its nuclear program. Obama's sights may now be set on securing 41 votes — the amount required to filibuster the resolution in the Senate to avoid a veto altogether. Jeva Lange
Poll results released by YouGov this morning find that Americans are almost evenly split on the question of whether prostitution should be illegal, with 44 percent supporting legalization and 46 percent opposing it. Respondents' opinions varied significantly by party affiliation, with Democrats more likely than Republicans or independents to back legal prostitution:
Asked whether prostitution is immoral, however, Americans are much less divided: Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) say it is wrong to hire a prostitute. Currently, all forms of prostitution are illegal in every state except Nevada, where some rural counties allow brothels (but not street solicitation). Prostitution is not regulated at the federal level. Bonnie Kristian
Ohio governor and Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich pushed the limits of social media advertising Wednesday, unveiling the first ever location-specific Snapchat campaign ad. It's got a rather porky theme:
The ad is a geofilter — a location-specific "sticker" that users can put on their photos — and Kasich's ad is also the first of its kind to be offered only during a specific time of day (in this case, the morning hours, to go along with the bacon theme).
"Budget pork isn't our taste but who doesn't love bacon and, of course, who doesn't love Snapchat?" Scott Milburn, a Kasich campaign spokesman, told Time. "You've got to have some fun with it all, right?"
Snapchat users in the early primary state of New Hampshire will have access to the bacon from 6 a.m. to noon on Wednesday. Jeva Lange
Roughly 8,000 years ago, Doggerland was swallowed up by the rising North Sea — researchers believe a 5-meter-tall tsunami may be to blame — never to be seen again. Now, archaeologists are working to resurrect the long-buried landmass, which was "once the home to thousands of stone age settlers and was an important land bridge between Britain and Northern Europe," The Telegraph reports. Doggerland was inhabited by humans from around 10,000 BC until some 8,000 years ago, when it was flooded in what is described as a "single titanic event" at the end of the last ice age.
In a reconstruction project of unprecedented scale, archaeologists at the University of Bradford are using seabed mapping data to create a 3D chart showing the country's landscape, including its rivers, hills, and coastlines. Ships are collecting sediment samples from the submerged Doggerland to discern what plants and animals once lived there. "This is the first time that this type of reconstruction has been attempted at this detail and scale in any marine environment," David Smith from the University of Birmingham told The Telegraph.
Although University of Bradford professor Vince Gaffney says that archaeologists "have known for a long time" that Doggerland could hold valuable insights into how an ancient society reacted to climate change, he says that archaeologists "have lacked the tools to investigate this area properly." But now, archaeologists may finally be able to unearth what Gaffney says could be Doggerland's "unique and important information about early human life in Europe." Becca Stanek
There could soon be no more Gaza Strip if conditions don't turn around very quickly. A recent U.N. report has found that economic conditions in Gaza are so bad that the entire region could be "uninhabitable" by 2020.
A stretch of Palestine wedged between Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea, the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated regions of the world with 1.8 million residents living in a mere 225 square miles of land. But after three conflicts with Israel and an almost decade-long blockade, Gaza now has an almost post-apocalyptic feel.
Its unemployment rate is 44 percent and its GDP dropped below 15 percent last year. Seventy-two percent of households are food insecure and over 95 percent of its main source of water is said to be non-potable. Its electricity production can't cover even 40 percent of demand.
The report faults the Israeli blockade for impoverishing the population. It also cited the 2014 war with Israel that left 73 Israelis and 2,200 Palestinians dead for wrecking Gaza's economy and destroying much of its infrastructure. More than 20,000 Palestinian homes and numerous schools, hospitals, and factories were ruined in the conflict.