TIME U.S.

Breakdown of Classic New York Roller Coaster Forces Riders to Climb Down By Foot

Workers assist thrill seekers on the Luna Park Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster after it got stuck on its inaugural run of the Summer 2015 season, on March 29, 2015 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Richard Levine—Demotix/Corbis Workers assist thrill seekers on the Luna Park Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster after it got stuck on its inaugural run of the Summer 2015 season, on March 29, 2015 in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"It was terrifying," one rider said

Thrill-seekers had a scarier ride than anticipated Sunday when the legendary Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster in New York got stuck on its first run of the season.

Staff members were forced to spend Luna Park’s opening day assisting shaken roller coaster riders climb down the wooden structure by foot. “It was terrifying, because I was up there and everything was spinning,” Gabriella Centeno told NBC after taking the long climb down. “I’m scared of heights.”

The amusement park staff said the coaster had been tested in preparation for opening day.

[NBC]

TIME public health

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria From Texan Cattle Yards Are Now Airborne, Study Finds

A herd of longhorn cattle stand as wildfire rages near on September 1, 2011 in Graford, Texas
Tom Pennington—Getty Images A herd of longhorn cattle stand as wildfire rages near on September 1, 2011 in Graford, Texas

Researchers say the bacteria are capable of "traveling for long distances"

A new study says the DNA from antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in American cattle yards has become airborne, creating a new pathway by which such bacteria can potentially spread to humans and hinder treatment of life-threatening infections.

Researchers gathered airborne particulate matter (PM) from around 10 commercial cattle yards within a 200 mile radius of Lubbock, Texas over a period of six-months. They found the air downwind of the yards contained antibiotics, bacteria and a “significantly greater” number of microbial communities containing antibiotic-resistant genes. That’s according to the study to be published in next month’s issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

“To our knowledge, this study is among the first to detect and quantify antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes…associated with airborne PM emitted from beef cattle feed yards,” said the authors, who are researchers in environmental toxicology at Texas Tech University and at a testing lab in Lubbock.

Co-author Phil Smith told the Texas Tribune that the bacteria could be active for a long time and “could be traveling for long distances.”

His colleague, molecular biologist Greg Mayer, told the paper that some of the study’s findings “made me not want to breathe.”

Because antibodies are poorly absorbed by cows they are released into the environment through excretion. Once in the environment, bacteria will undergo natural selection and genes that have acquired natural immunities will survive.

The genes that have gone airborne are contained in dried fecal matter that has become dust and gets picked up by winds as they whip through the stockyards.

The Texas Tribune reported that representatives from the Texas cattle industry (estimated to control around 14 million beef cows) criticized the study, saying it portrayed the airborne bacteria as overly hazardous to human health.

But the mass of PM2.5 particles (the kind that can be inhaled into lungs) released into the atmosphere is eye opening, with the study estimating the total amount released by cattle yards in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas exceeds 46,000 lbs.(21,000 kg) per day.

Antibiotic-resistant bacterial DNA is already known to be transferable to humans if ingested via water or meat.


TIME Obesity

This Place Just Became the First Part of the U.S. to Impose a Tax on Junk Food

TIME.com stock photos Food Snacks Candy
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

It also eliminated a 5% sales tax on healthy produce

The Navajo Nation, which suffers from a 10% obesity rate, is imposing a 2% junk-food tax on its reservation beginning April 1.

Navajo president Ben Shelly approved the Healthy Dine Nation Act last November, which from this week will also eliminate a 5% sales tax on healthy fare including fresh fruits and vegetables.

Revenues from the sin tax will reportedly be channeled toward community wellness projects like farmer’s markets, vegetable gardens and greenhouses in the 27,000 sq. mi. of Navajo reservation spanning from Arizona and New Mexico to Utah.

Approximately 24,600 Navajo tribe members face obesity, according to the Navajo Area Indian Health Service. Type 2 diabetes has emerged as a growing public health concern afflicting up to 60% of reservation residents in some areas.

With nearly half of the Navajo youth population facing unemployment and 38% of the Navajo reservation at the poverty level, supporters say the act may serve as a prototype for sin taxes to curb obesity in low-income communities across the U.S.

By comparison, around one-third of Americans nationwide are classified as obese, the highest rate in the world.

TIME Law

Apple CEO Tim Cook Warns Of Discriminatory Laws Sweeping U.S.

Tim Cook
Eric Risberg—AP Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks in San Francisco on March 9, 2015

"America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business"

Apple boss Tim Cook decried in the Washington Post what he called discriminatory legislation proposed in more than 20 states, following a controversial law signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence that appears to allows the state’s business owners to refuse service to same-sex couples.

“America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business,” Cook wrote in a Post op-ed. The 54-year-old referenced the Indiana bill that critics say enables LGBT discrimination on the grounds of religious freedom.

Cook argues that leading companies like Apple must oppose the growing trend of such legislation in places like North Carolina and Nevada, as the laws will ultimately hamper job growth and economic prosperity.

Read more at the Washington Post

TIME Military

The Budget Trick That Made the Pentagon a Fiscal Functioning Alcoholic

108094689
Erik Simonsen / Getty Images The Pentagon's $391 billion, 2,443-plane F-35 program is the costliest in history.

Bookkeeping gimmick creates a `co-dependency'

If the Pentagon needs more money—and that’s debatable—the Republicans have chosen the worst possible way to do it in the budgetary roadmaps both the House and Senate have recently approved.

That’s because they’ve kept in place the budget caps in place for defense and domestic discretionary spending for the proposed 2016 budget. While that keeps domestic spending in check, they’ve opted to fatten up the Pentagon’s war-fighting account by about $90 billion, which isn’t subject to the budget limits. Even President Obama, under heavy pressure from the Joint Chiefs, has blinked and said military spending should be boosted above the caps set in 2011. But he wants domestic spending increased as well.

The idea of special war-fighting budgetary add-ons makes sense, because while the Pentagon’s base budget trains and outfits the U.S. military, it doesn’t pay for it to wage war. But such Overseas Contingency Operations accounts are supposed to go away when the wars end, as they have in Afghanistan and Iraq (the current U.S.-led small-scale air war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, like the 2011 air war over Libya, can be funded out of the base budget). But the Republicans have basically perverted a responsible approach to funding the nation’s wars into an annual, multi-billion-dollar slush fund subject to even less congressional scrutiny than regular military budgets get.

CSBAThe Pentagon budget increasingly is being inflated with war funding that has little to do with funding wars.

“There’re a lot of different opinions about whether there should be an overseas contingency account or not, and whether it’s a slush fund or not,” then-defense secretary Chuck Hagel said last September.

The account, whatever it’s called, has become a rhetorical device: pump it up, defense hawks say, or risk crippling national security. Of course, that’s flat-out wrong. If the nation believes it needs to spend more on the military, it should hold an honest debate on the topic and then vote accordingly, without budgetary chicanery.

Hagel’s successor, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, is warning that the military needs more money beyond the $499 billion permitted by the 2011 law. But he says that force-feeding the Pentagon like a foie gras goose doesn’t solve the problem. “Current proposals to shoe-horn DOD’s base-budget funds into our contingency accounts would fail to solve the problem,” he said Thursday, “while also undermining basic principles of accountability and responsible long-term planning.”

So as the defense-budget debate continues, here are some facts to keep in mind:

1. With the Pentagon’s base-budget caps in place, its funding would rise slightly in coming years. Accounting for inflation basically makes for flat spending through 2024. The U.S. military budget today, under those caps, is higher than the Cold War average. That’s because even as the U.S. military shrinks, the cost of each remaining weapon bought and troop recruited has soared.

2. The reason the Pentagon is having trouble living within those levels is that it has grown used to pilfering its war-fighting accounts to fund normal operations, including purchasing weapons. A recent congressional report said that the Pentagon spent $71 billion of its war accounts on non-war spending from 2001 to 2014.

3. The war-fighting accounts have accounted for 23% of Pentagon spending over the past decade. Like a functioning alcoholic, the U.S. military has gotten used to the constant buzz, and is petrified of being forced to put the bottle away.

But here’s why it should stop cold turkey and get back to basic budgets:

1. Without standard congressional scrutiny, the money will be spent with even less oversight than normal Pentagon spending.

2. Because it is an annual appropriation that has to be renewed each year, there is no way the Pentagon can wisely budget for it in advance, and spent it smartly when and if it gets it.

3. Finally, counting on such a loophole sends the wrong signal. Troops are being paid and weapons bought, in part, with the equivalent of payday loans.

It also leads allies to question U.S. commitments. “We’re putting things in the Overseas Contingency Operations fund like the European Reassurance Initiative,” says Todd Harrison, a defense-budget expert at the nonprofit Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank. “If we’re really trying to reassure our European allies in the face of a more-assertive Russia that we’re going to be there for them, why are we putting that into an account that’s only one year at a time?”

TIME On Our Radar

Go Inside a Newly Public Trove of Rare Civil War-Era Pictures

The Library of Congress acquired more than 500 images from an 87-year-old collector

Hundreds of rare Civil War images, mostly made by Southern photographers, have been released online.

Collector Robin Stanford sold more than 500 images to the Library of Congress for an undisclosed amount, the Washington Post reports. “They’re just tremendously significant,” said Bob Zeller, president of the Center for Civil War Photography. “These are not post-war. These are actual scenes of slavery in America.”

Stanford, 87 and of Houston, had been collecting the images—many of them are stereo pictures, or two of the same frame that are printed on one card and meant to be seen in 3-D via a stereo viewer—since the 1970s. She had planned to donate her extensive archive to her son, John, but after his unexpected death last year, she sold parts of her collection to support her daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

“I’m so glad they’re here, because they will be available for everybody,” she told the Post. “On the other hand, I’m going to miss them.”

The Library has already digitized 77 of Stanford’s photographs. Among them are scenes from plantations in South Carolina, as well as pictures of a country in mourning after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

TIME States

What You Need to Know About Indiana’s Controversial Religious Objections Law

Organizers fire up a crowd of demonstrators gathered to protest a controversial religious freedom bill recently signed by Governor Mike Pence, in Indianapolis on March 28, 2015.
Nate Chute—Reuters Organizers fire up a crowd of demonstrators gathered to protest a controversial religious freedom bill recently signed by Governor Mike Pence, in Indianapolis on March 28, 2015.

A guide to the law, signed by Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday, that critics say allows discrimination against LGBT people

A controversial Indiana law signed by Gov. Mike Pence last week has brought nationwide scrutiny to the Midwestern state — but what’s it all about?

The so-called “religious objections” law has sparked high-profile allegations that it opens the door to legal discrimination against gay people. Meanwhile, Gov. Pence has stood by his position, arguing on Sunday that the law “is not about discrimination.” Here’s a guide to the law, and the controversy:

So what exactly is this law?

The legislation, officially termed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SEA 101), prohibits any state law that would “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. It was signed by Gov. Pence in a private ceremony on Thursday, as he explained, “to ensure religious liberty is fully protected under [Indiana] law.” Scheduled to take effect in July, the law boils down to the following clause (full text available here):

A [state] governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s [defined as an individual, business, religious institution or association] exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.

While the law’s full text defines “substantially burden,” in practice the law remains vague and up to the courts’ interpretation. Gov. Pence has denied accusations that the law is discriminatory, though he has dodged questions concerning whether the law would permit such a scenario.

Why is it considered discriminatory?

Critics argue it would theoretically allow businesses such as hotels or restaurants to deny service to gay customers due to their moral or religious convictions. When a Colorado bakery refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple and a New Mexico photographer refused to take photos of a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony, state governments sided against the businesses. That has prompted some lawmakers, including in Indiana, to push for legal support for religious objections.

Others have warned that the bill could permit discrimination more broadly, on religious grounds. The Human Rights Campaign argued in a report last year that bills like that passed in Indiana could empower any individual to sue the government to attempt to end enforcement of a non-discrimination law:

The evangelical owner of a business providing a secular service can sue claiming that their personal faith empowers them to refuse to hire Jews, divorcees, or LGBT people. A landlord could claim the right to refuse to rent an apartment to a Muslim or a transgender person.

Who has criticized the bill?

A broad coalition of people from Democrats and liberal groups, to some high-profile businesses and organizations. The NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, has expressed concern over Indiana’s law as it prepares to host the Final Four next week in the Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium. NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement last week, “we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”

Elsewhere, high-profile leaders including Apple CEO Tim Cook and presumptive 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton have criticized the bill. The CEO of business-rating site Angie’s List withdrew an expansion project in Indiana in response to the law, while and CEO of cloud computing company Salesforce said all Indiana-based events and travel responsibilities would be cancelled.

Hollywood has chimed in, too, including social media posts from Miley Cyrus and Ashton Kutcher as the hashtag #boycottindiana gains steam on Twitter.

Do religious groups support Indiana’s law?

Most have been somewhat silent surrounding Gov. Pence’s decision, the Indianapolis Star reported Friday, after surveying several local institutions. Indiana Right to Life CEO Mike Fichter, for example, said the group supports for the law for its “to provide greater protections for pro-life businesses and ministries in Indiana.”

Still, others groups including the Indianapolis-based Christian Church and a bishop from the Indiana area United Methodist Church said they were hesitant to support the law, according to the Star. “Our perspective is that hate and bigotry wrapped in religious freedom is still hate and bigotry,” said Todd Adam, associate general minister of the Christian Church.

Is this the first state law of its kind?

No. Indiana—while the first to enact such as a law this year—is actually the 20th U.S. state to pass such a law, the Associated Press reported this weekend. And others have similar legislation on the books, including North Carolina, Georgia and Arkansas. The latter bill has already passed the State Senate and State House of Representatives, and received a nod of approval by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson this weekend, who said he plans to sign it.

These laws are modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which passed the House and Senate in 1993 before being signed by former Democratic president Bill Clinton. At that time, the RFRA was not understood to legalize discrimination against gay Americans—in fact, its origins lay in Oregon v. Smith (1990), in which two Native Americans who were fired after taking part in a religious ceremony. As a result, the RFRA established a balancing test to determine whether there was indeed a breach of religious liberty. Its definition of “substantially burden” is the same one used in Indiana’s law.

If a federal religious freedom law already exists, why do states need their own versions?

In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal act was not applicable to state and local laws. Since then, states including Texas, Florida, Connecticut and Illinois have passed their own versions of the religious freedom restoration act.

But in passing these laws, UVA law professor Douglas Laycock told the Washington Post last year, most states did not have the issue of gay rights on their minds. “There were cases about Amish buggies, hunting moose for native Alaskan funeral rituals, an attempt to take a church building by eminent domain, landmark laws that prohibited churches from modifying their buildings—all sorts of diverse conflicts between religious practice and pervasive regulation.”

More recently, though, some states have introduced bills explicitly tackling the topic of marriage. In Oklahoma, for example, a proposed bill states that businesses aren’t required “to participate in any marriage ceremony, celebration, or other related activity or to provide items or services for such purposes against the person’s religious beliefs.”

What motivated the Indiana state legislature to pass the bill?

It was partly inspired by the landmark Supreme Court case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014), which used an interpretation of the federal RFRA to rule that businesses may refuse to pay for employee contraceptive coverage required by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act on religious grounds.

Republican Indiana State Sen. Scott Schneider, who introduced Indiana’s “religious objections” bill last December, said in a statement that the Hobby Lobby case motivated the bill: “In reviewing that court ruling, it became clear that Indiana’s laws were not reflective of federal law. This bill, which I plan to author this session, would match federal law in the state of Indiana.”

The legal case for the bill was also set out in an Indianapolis Star article by Indiana University law professor Daniel Conkle. In it, he wrote:

The bill would establish a general legal standard, the “compelling interest” test, for evaluating laws and governmental practices that impose substantial burdens on the exercise of religion.

Is it possible for the bill to be reversed?

Gov. Pence isn’t interested: “We’re not going to change this law,” Pence said on Sunday. However, the Indiana governor added that he welcomes a clarification bill, which is expected arrive later this week: “If the General Assembly … sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is and what it has been for the last 20 years, then I’m open to that.”

While Gov. Pence did not disclose what specific clarifications would be included, he told the Star that the legal protection of gay and lesbian Indiana residents is “not on my agenda.”

Read next: Democrats Caught Up in Controversial Indiana Religious-Freedom Law

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Accident

2 Die in Small Plane Crash Near Pennsylvania Airport

The FAA will investigate the cause

(WEST CHESTER, Pa.) — Authorities say a small plane crash near a southeastern Pennsylvania airport has left two people dead.

Emergency officials say the crash was reported near Brandywine Airport just after 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Dispatchers said two people were found dead following the crash. An official said they were the only people on board.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the Piper PA28 had taken off from the airport located about 20 miles west of Philadelphia. The aircraft then went out of control and went down in a field about two miles away.

Emergency crews reported that the plane burst into flames following the crash.

The FAA will investigate the cause of the crash.

TIME Accident

Two Bodies Found in Rubble 3 Days After NYC Blast, Police Say

Firefighters continue to hose down the site of a seven-alarm fire that caused the collapse of two buildings a day after the blaze took place on March 27, 2015 in New York City.
Nancy Borowick—Pool/Getty Images Firefighters continue to hose down the site of a seven-alarm fire that caused the collapse of two buildings a day after the blaze took place on March 27, 2015 in New York City.

Two men are missing, but no identification was immediately released

(NEW YORK) — Emergency workers found a second body Sunday in the mass of rubble left behind by an apparent gas explosion three days earlier in Manhattan’s East Village, police said.

The names of the two dead were not immediately released; a medical examiner was to determine the identifications.

Authorities had been looking for signs of two missing men, both believed to have been inside a ground floor sushi restaurant at the time of the explosion: 26-year-old Moises Lucon, who worked at the restaurant, and 23-year-old Nicholas Figueroa, a bowling alley worker who had been there on a date.

During the day, workers raked through piles of loose brick and wood; rescue workers sent search dogs over debris where three apartment buildings once stood.

Several members of Figueroa’s family visited the blast site Sunday, holding flowers and crying.

Figueroa’s brother, Neal, leaned over barricades and shouted pleas to emergency workers: “He’s a strong man, I know he’s in there! Don’t give up, please find my brother.”

Authorities, however, acknowledged the chances of finding anyone alive were slim.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said someone may have improperly tapped a gas line before the explosion that injured 22 people, four of them critically.

Consolidated Edison said utility workers had discovered in August that the gas line to the restaurant had been illegally tapped. The discovery led Con Edison to shut down gas service to the building for about 10 days while the building owner made repairs. Gas service was restored after the utility deemed it safe, the utility said.

Inspectors from Con Ed had visited that building about an hour before Thursday’s explosion and determined work to upgrade gas service didn’t pass inspection, locking the line to ensure it wouldn’t be used and then leaving, officials said. The work underway was to put in a bigger line to serve the entire building, Con Ed President Craig Ivey said.

Fifteen minutes later, the sushi restaurant’s owner smelled gas and called the landlord, who called the general contractor, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. Nobody called 911 or Con Ed.

The contractor, Dilber Kukic, and the owner’s son went into the basement and opened a door, and then the explosion happened, burning their faces, Boyce said.

Kukic —who’s facing unrelated charges of bribing an undercover investigator posing as a housing inspector —declined through his lawyer to comment on the circumstances surrounding the explosion. City records show Kukic got a permit last June for plumbing, flooring, removing partition walls and other work at the building.

The explosion echoed through the city’s arts community, destroying “Sopranos” actress Drea de Matteo’s apartment — she posted photos on Instagram of “a hole where my NYC home of the last 22 years once stood” — and spurring the cancellation of five performances of the propulsive show “Stomp,” which is at a theater near the site.

The blast happened a little over a year after a gas explosion in a building in East Harlem killed eight people and injured about 50. A gas leak was reported shortly before that blast.

TIME Transportation

4-Year-Old Girl Boards Bus Alone in Late-Night Search for Slushie

The girl was unharmed and reunited with her parents

A 4-year-old girl boarded a Philadelphia bus alone in the early hours of Friday, transportation officials said Sunday, and told passengers she was looking for a slushie.

Surveillance footage showed the girl acting cheerful with her feet dangling off her seats, while confused bus riders looked her way, Reuters reports. The driver pulled over when he noticed the girl, then called his control center and awaited authorities. She was taken to a nearby hospital and reunited with her parents, who said they didn’t realize she had left via a back door.

“I will take you to buy a slushie,” Jaclyn Mager said to her daughter in a television interview. “But promise me next time you’ll wait for me, O.K.?”

[Reuters]

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