TIME Accident

A Dozen Injured in Manhattan Building Explosion

Witnesses say they heard an explosion before the building caught on fire

At least 12 people were injured, three critically, when a building collapsed in New York City on Thursday afternoon, sparking a major fire that spread to three neighboring buildings, officials said. Witnesses in the densely populated East Village neighborhood reported hearing an explosion before the building caught fire.

About 250 firefighters and EMS workers responded to the scene around 3:20 p.m., local time. Firefighters searched the buildings before the first one collapsed 15 minutes later, forcing them out. At least 12 people were taken to local hospitals, according to an FDNY spokeswoman. No deaths or missing persons have been reported as of 6:15 p.m. The area has been evacuated.

In a news conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said preliminary reports suggest that plumbing or gas work was being done in a building on Second Avenue before the explosion took place.

The buildings near the corner of Second Avenue and 7th Street contain both residences and businesses, including a sushi restaurant and a popular late-night Belgian fry shop called Pommes Frites.

Consolidated Edison is shutting down the gas in the impacted area and has sent a team to investigate the cause of the explosion, according to a Con Ed spokesman. The company’s president said at the news conference that Con Ed workers who had visited the building earlier in the afternoon to inspect work being done by a private company found that work unacceptable and recommended not introducing gas. The explosion happened about an hour later.

The city’s Office of Emergency Management sent out an alert telling people in the area to close their windows and stay away from the smoke. The smell of smoke spread at least as far as midtown Manhattan, a couple miles away.

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME College Basketball

West Virginia Gets Cocky Before March Madness Game Against Undefeated Kentucky

Dayton v Oklahoma
Jamie Sabau—Getty Images Daxter Miles Jr. #4 of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts after dunking the ball during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 22, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

"They're going to be 36-1," a WVU freshman says

West Virginia freshman Daxter Miles Jr. made a bold prediction to the media on Wednesday when he guaranteed that his team would beat undefeated Kentucky in their sweet 16 matchup Thursday night.

“[I] salute them to getting to 36-0. But tomorrow they’re gonna be 36-1,” Miles declared out of either confidence or hubris.“They should be more intimidated. Because they’re the ones who have the high standard, and we’re coming for them.” He went on to say the Wildcats wouldn’t be able to pass the ball under the Mountaineers’ press.

West Virginia, a 5 seed , has just a 13% chance of snapping 1 seed Kentucky’s streak, according to Nate Silver’s predictions at FiveThirtyEight. And bettors have the Wildcats as a 13-point favorite over the Mountaineers.

Even West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was careful to hedge Miles’ claims. “I don’t know,” he said when asked if the press could stop Kentucky. “I hope so. It’s going to be a long day for us if we can’t.”

But who knows. With Miles’ conviction, March Madness could just get that mad. Kentucky and WVU play on Thursday at 9:45 p.m. EST.

[ESPN]

TIME celebrities

Duck Dynasty Star Finds New Controversy in Anti-Atheist Speech

Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and The Duggars Speak At CPAC
Kris Connor—Getty Images Phil Robertson of A&E's Duck Dynasty addresses the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel and Convention Center on February 27, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Phil Robertson is no stranger to scandal

Phil Robertson, the paterfamilias on A&E’s Duck Dynasty who also frequents the Christian speaking circuit, has stirred up controversy yet again by inventing a bizarre parable in which an atheist family is raped and murdered.

The conservative reality television star has a reputation for sounding off about controversial issues. In 2013, he came under fire for making homophobic remarks in an interview with GQ. This time, his focal point was atheists, whom—he asserted—have no moral compass because they do not believe in God. Here is the graphic story he told, per the audio from Right Wing Watch:

I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’

Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’

The moral of the tale? “If it happens to them, they probably would say, ‘Something about this just ain’t right,'” Robertson said.

Some fundamental Christians, like Robertson, believe that morality is dependent on the existence of God and by rejecting God, atheists also reject morals. A writer at the Friendly Atheist blog responded, “I don’t know a single atheist or agnostic who thinks that terrorizing, raping, torturing, mutilating, and killing people is remotely OK, and I frankly think that Robertson doesn’t either.”

A&E declined to comment on Robertson’s speech.

TIME Education

Dartmouth Investigates Frat for Branding Pledges

The Alpha Delta fraternity at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. on June 9, 2006.
Larry Crowe—AP The Alpha Delta fraternity at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. on June 9, 2006.

Its Alpha Delta chapter inspired Animal House

Dartmouth College said it is investigating its Alpha Delta chapter for branding the skin of new members. If found guilty, the chapter could be suspended or lose recognition by the college permanently.

A group of pledges for the fraternity that inspired the film Animal House (1978) say they voluntarily agreed to be branded, a lawyer for the chapter, George Ostler, told Bloomberg Business. The permanent marks were “a form of self-expression, similar to body piercing or tattoos,” he said. “The facts are that no hazing occurred. No one has been injured by this activity.”

This is far from Alpha Delta’s first infraction on the Dartmouth campus, the report adds. Within the last two years, the chapter has been fined for serving alcohol to minors, publicly apologized after hosting a “Crips and Bloods Party” and had one of its members admit to urinating on a woman from the frat’s balcony. The fraternity is currently suspended for violating drinking-related campus rules.

Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon, a former Alpha Delta member, has taken measures to curb the dangerous aspects of greek life on campus. In January, he banned hard liquor. Dartmouth’s Interfraternity Council also recently outlawed any form of pledging due to complaints of abuse. (The branding incident took place before these rules went into place.)

MORE: Fraternities Are Their Own Worst Enemies, Not Drunk Girls

Critics of greek life at Dartmouth have called for a complete overhaul of the fraternity system. Andrew Lohse, a former member of Dartmouth’s SAE fraternity who wrote a book called Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy, told TIME last September that many fraternity members at Dartmouth ignored and even joked about school rules. He went on to tie the hazing culture in fraternities with rape culture on college campuses. “When you talk about hazing, nobody is really consenting to it,” he said. “The power dynamic of being coerced to do all these humiliating and sexualized or homoerotic things [during hazing] mirrors this power dynamic that many people would argue occurs when women walk into a fraternity.”

The Dartmouth investigation comes as fraternities across the country face allegations of racism, sexism and hazing. Two Sigma Alpha Epsilon members were suspended at the University of Oklahoma for using racial slurs and referencing lynching in a video. And Penn State is reviewing its Greek system after discovering a Kappa Delta Rho-run Facebook page featured naked or partially nude women who appeared to be passed out.

READ NEXT: Will Ferrell Says Oklahoma Incident an ‘Argument for Getting Rid of’ Frats

[Bloomberg]

TIME Music

Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea’s Song Finally Has a Release Date

Britney Spears performs at her "Britney: Piece Of Me" show at Planet Hollywood Casino Resort on March 4, 2015 in Las Vegas.
Denise Truscello—BSLV/Getty Images Britney Spears performs at her "Britney: Piece Of Me" show at Planet Hollywood Casino Resort on March 4, 2015 in Las Vegas.

The song will be called "Pretty Girls"

Britney is back (again), but this time she has the help of a fellow diva.

The singer revealed to People that she and “Fancy” rapper Iggy Azalea collaborated on a single that will drop May 5.

Azalea confirmed to the Associated Press earlier this month that the song will be called “Pretty Girls” and will most likely appear on her next album. Spears is also working on a new LP, but between motherhood and her Vegas show, it’s coming along slowly. Luckily for fans of the “…Baby One More Time” singer, a video for “Pretty Girls” starring the duo is also in the works.

Read more at People.com.

TIME Law

Watch Brittany Maynard’s Video in Support of Right-to-Die Legislation

Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2014

Brittany Maynard’s family has released a video of her testimony for a right-to-die bill, currently being considered in California, almost four months after her death. Advocates presented the video to the California legislature Wednesday ahead of a state Senate committee vote on the issue.

Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2014. The 29-year-old moved to Oregon, where she had the legal right to end her own life. California and New York are considering joining the handful of states where it is legal for terminal patients to obtain a prescription that will allow them to die in their sleep. Though two such death with dignity bills have failed in the state before, Maynard’s case has brought new attention to the controversial issue.

MORE: More States Considering Right-to-Die Laws After Brittany Maynard

“I am heartbroken that I had to leave behind my home, my community, and my friends in California, but I am dying and I refuse to lose my dignity,” she says in the video, filmed weeks before her death on Nov. 1. “I refuse to subject myself and my family to purposeless, prolonged pain and suffering at the hands of an incurable disease.”

But others testified that such a law could be dangerous. “Where assisted suicide is legal, some people’s lives will be ended without their consent through mistakes and abuse,” said Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Read next: See Which States Allow End-of-Life Treatment

TIME Music

Rihanna May Drop Her New Album Tomorrow

Or will it just be a new single?

It’s finally coming—we hope. Rihanna took to Instagram on Wednesday to tease what looks to be her new album.

Rihanna shared a picture with the hashtags “#R8,” “#BBHMM” and “#March26,” plus a link to her site RihannaNOW.com (which leads to the same picture and hashtags). Fans have previously used #R8 on Twitter to discuss Rihanna’s highly anticipated eighth album, and many are speculating that #BBHMM stands for “B— Better Have My Money” a possible name for either a new single or album.

rihannaNOW.com #R8 #BBHMM #March26

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

Rumors have swirled for months about the release date of Rihanna’s first album in almost three years. Anticipation grew when she released a collaboration with Kanye West and Paul McCartney, “FourFiveSeconds” and teased two other songs on Instagram.

#NavyRDie

A video posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

#NavyRDie

A video posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

The artist’s enigmatic announcement comes just a few days before Home, an animated film to which she lent her voice, premieres on Friday. Watch Rihanna and co-stars Jim Parsons and Steve Martin discuss the film and the possibility of alien life below.

TIME celebrities

Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke Says She Turned Down Fifty Shades

Game of Thrones Season 5
HBO

The actress who plays Khaleesi says she was concerned about getting a reputation for doing nudity

It’s hard to imagine the Mother of Dragons playing a bookish, submissive virgin. But apparently Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones, was offered the role of Anastasia Steele in the S&M movie Fifty Shades of Grey.

Clarke told The Hollywood Reporter that she turned down the offer. “No regrets,” she said in the interview. “I’d done nudity before and was concerned with being labeled for doing it again.”

The wildly popular HBO show, of course, demands plenty of nudity from nearly all its actors. But now that she’s earning a rumored $7 million per season on the show, Clarke presumably has a little more control over how often she strips down. “There are other women who remove items of clothing on our show, so they’ve kind of got my nipple count down now,” she joked.

Instead of Fifty Shades, Clarke took a starring role as badass Sarah Connor in Terminator: Genisys with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie premieres July 1, but first Clarke will return as Khaleesi in Game of Thrones’ fifth season premiere on April 12.

[THR]

 

TIME tragedy

Home of Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooter Demolished

Connecticut School Shooting Lanza Home
Autumn Driscoll—AP A crew finishes up the demolition, March 24, 2015, of the home of Nancy Lanza, where she had lived with her son Adam Lanza in Newtown, Conn.

Neighbors said the Newtown home was a reminder of the tragedy

Crews have torn down the home of the man who killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Mass. The demolition took place Monday.

On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza killed his mother in the home before shooting 20 first-graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook and then committing suicide. The town acquired the property in December of 2014 and voted to tear the house down in January. Neighbors had complained that it reminded them of the tragedy, according to NBC Connecticut.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School building where the tragedy took place was torn down in 2013.

[NBC]

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