TIME Houston

Astrodome May Be Saved After All, With Historic Place Designation

Astrodome
The Houston Astrodome in Houston, Texas prepares to accept some 25,000-30,000 refugees from Hurricane Katrina who were staying in the New Orleans Superdome. August 31, 2005. Bob Levey / WireImage / Getty

The Astrodome, which many feared would soon be in the path of a wrecking ball, has been thrown a lifeline, one that could rescue it from near-certain demolition.

The 67,000-seat stadium, located in southwest Houston and once dubbed “The Eighth Wonder of the World”, has been named to the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service, the Houston Chronicle reports. The move could open up interest in rehabilitating the structure, which was built in 1965 but hasn’t seen an NFL game since 1996 or a Major League Baseball game since 1999.

Late last year, voters turned down a $200 million referendum to turn the former home of the Astros and the Oilers into a convention center, leading it almost surely down the path of demolition. But now inscribed in the national records’ book, it becomes more attractive to developers who’d want to save it. Beth Wiedower, director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Houston office told the Chronicle that private developers could get a 20% federal tax credit for investing in the structure. They would also be eligible for state tax incentives passed by the Texas legislature.

Much of the building has fallen into disrepair and parts were demolished last year. One of the last major uses of the Astrodome was in 2005 when it served as a shelter for 25,000 refugees from Hurricane Katrina that had been moved from New Orleans.

Despite its new designation, Harris County could still demolish it due to a lack of willing tenants. It seems certain that sports teams won’t return: new venues for both football and baseball have been built in the years since the Astrodome’s disuse.

[Houston Chronicle]

TIME Media

Controversial Billboard Depicting U.S. Soldier and Muslim Woman Hits Times Square

A billboard advertising SnoreStop at 52nd Street and Broadway in New York City SnoreStop

The ad brought both anger and praise in other parts of the country

New York’s Times Square is a kaleidoscope of bright lights and flashy ads, but one, posted Monday, will likely stand out due to its provocative nature.

The ad, which simply markets an over-the-counter oral spray called SnoreStop, depicts a U.S. soldier embracing a Muslim woman dressed in niqab. An ad for an anti-snore spray, it infers that the product keeps couples together by alleviating the annoying nocturnal sound that plagues millions. But when the company launched their #betogether campaign, they knew they would be courting controversy. They also knew that the billboard would command at least as much attention as the product, whose slogan is: “If we can keep this couple together, we can keep anyone together.”

But spokeswoman Melody Devemark said the response to the ads, which were first posted in Los Angeles in October, has varied and that in New York, the toughest market to place the billboard, there hasn’t been an outpouring of rage. “It’s still up there, she told TIME. “It hasn’t been burned down or anything.”

“If anything we are getting a lot of reaction on social media,” said Devemark, whose company, Camarillo, Calif.-based Green Pharmaceuticals, makes SnoreStop. “We wanted to start out in Times Square, but we couldn’t find a company that wanted to accept the creative. Our media buyer finally found a company and they were pretty much the only ones who would accept the creative.”

She explained that several other companies were approached with the ad, but never responded. One major company, Clear Channel Communications, flat out rejected the ad, citing “its ‘sensitive nature’ and ‘uncomfortable imagery,’ ” DNAInfo reported in November. But knowing that the ad would be controversial, the company pushed ahead with the campaign, which has so far resulted in product sales over the web tripling .

The company has not yet gauged what New Yorkers think of the ad, but national response gives an idea of what it might be. On Twitter alone the ad has elicited a gamut of responses from supportive:

to downright negative:

Other ads marketed by SnoreStop feature several multiracial and gay and lesbian couples. “We show many diverse couples in our advertising,” Devemark explained. “With this particular couple, we felt they would stand out more.”

The soldier depicted, Paul Evans, is an active duty soldier and the woman, Lexy Panterra, is of Iranian descent. The image taken was inspired by a real life bi-cultural couple. Evans defended his decision to be shot for the ad. “I’m aware of the controversy and, in fact, I am in the military to fight for this very right to express oneself in this country,” he said.

Darren Shuster, a publicist with Pop Culture PR, which has been boosting the campaign, said the controversy may well overshadow the actual product. “It was controversial in L.A. and that’s not where 9/11 happened,” he explained. “It’s hard to deny that in New York it would be more controversial. You would imagine that it would be.”

TIME homicide

Boy Shoots Sister over Bleached Laundry, Family Says

Crime Scene
Denis Jr. Tangney / Getty Images

Mario Toliver, who family members said shot his sister Justice, fled from the scene

Family members of a 14-year-old boy in Oakland, Calif., are pleading for him to turn himself in to police after he allegedly shot his 17-year-old sister to death Thursday.

Justice Toliver was pronounced dead at the scene after being fatally wounded Thursday afternoon in the apartment she shared with her brother Mario, and their family, police said. Relatives said the boy was angry with his sister for bleaching his clothes. “Whatever it was about it shouldn’t get that serious to pick up a gun and kill his sister,” Gregory Stewart, 25, the siblings’ cousin told the San Jose Mercury News.

The victim was the mother of a 2-year-old child, family members said.

Mario Toliver fled the scene after the shooting and police have been searching for him since.

The victim’s father, Mario Toliver, Sr., spoke to reporters outside the family home, with tears streaming down his face. I’ve been there for them ever since they came out of the womb… I don’t understand, it’s just the streets. The devil is working all the time, devil’s working all the time.”

[San Jose Mercury News]

TIME Football

NFL May Eliminate Extra Point

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirms possible change to scoring system

The extra point could be on its way to extinction if the National Football League goes through with a proposal to eliminate the age-old method of supplementing touchdowns in football games with a conversion.

The kicks have had a 99.1% percent rate in the NFL since 2004 and have become almost a foregone conclusion, Commissioner Roger Goodell told NFL.com.

“The extra point is almost automatic,” he said. “I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some-odd. So it’s a very small fraction of the play.”

Under the current rules, teams that have scored a touchdown may attempt an extra point by kicking the football through the goal posts, or they may try for a two-point conversion by running the ball. Goodell said a possible change (among several proposals) would involve giving a scoring team seven points for touchdowns, but also an option to attempt an eighth point through a run or pass — but going back to six if the attempt fails.

Goddell would not say if or when a decision would be made on any changes in the scoring system. “We’ll make some focus on this in the [NFL Competition] Committee and we’ll see where they come out.”

But change can happen. After decades of resistance, for example, the NFL adopted the two-point conversion in 1994.

TIME Crime

Utah Policeman Kills His Family, Then Himself

Crime Scene
Crime Scene Getty / tillsonburg

A Utah police officer shot four members of his family before killing himself, police there said Friday.

Police in Spanish Fork, Utah believe Joshua Boren, 34, killed his wife, their two children, and his mother-in-law with a handgun before turning the weapon on himself, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Chief Steve Adams said Boren had not reported for duty Thursday night and his supervisor sent officers to his home. When they arrived, they found the lights on, but no answer at the door.

“Through a window, officers noticed blood on the carpet of the front room as well as empty handgun shell casings,” said Spanish Fork Lt. Matthew Johnson.

When the officers gained entry to the house, they found the bodies of Boren, his wife Kelly, 32; their children Joshua, 7, and Haley, 5; and Boren’s mother-in-law Marie King, 55.

Authorities said they didn’t find a suicide note, but did note that the Boren had been going through marital problems for several months. Despite that, Johnson said Boren showed no outward signs of trouble.

“There were no warning signs,” he said. “This was a total shock to everyone.”

[Salt Lake Tribune]

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