TIME HIV/AIDS

HIV Triggers a Public Health Emergency in Indiana

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence responds to a question during a news conference, March 25, 2015, in Scottsburg, Ind.
Darron Cummings—AP Indiana Gov. Mike Pence responds to a question during a news conference, March 25, 2015, in Scottsburg, Ind.

Intravenous drug use identified as the source of infections

Gov. Mike Pence declared a public health emergency Thursday in south Indiana’s Scott County, which has seen a large HIV flare-up from intravenous drug use.

At least 79 HIV confirmed cases have been tied to the southern Indiana country since January, up from fewer than five new cases in a typical year, and the state expects that figure to rise as officials scramble to alert up to 100 people linked to those newly infected. Intravenous drug use has been named as the primary infection source in every confirmed case.

“This is all-hands-on-deck. This is a very serious situation,” Pence said at a news conference on Thursday.

The emergency order will set up a command center to coordinate HIV and substance abuse treatment. Pence also authorized a temporary needle-exchange program, on recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after the governor had previously said he opposed the practice.

“Scott County is facing an epidemic of HIV, but this is not a Scott County problem; this is an Indiana problem,” the Governor said in a statement. “ I am confident that together we will stop this HIV outbreak in its tracks.”

Read next: This Map Shows the Deadliest Counties in the U.S.

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TIME weather

Oklahoma Governor Declares State of Emergency After Deadly Tornadoes

First responders work to free a man from a rubble pile after a round of severe weather hit a trailer park in Sand Springs, Okla., on March 25, 2015.
Matt Barnard—Tulsa World/AP First responders work to free a man from a rubble pile after a round of severe weather hit a trailer park in Sand Springs, Okla., on March 25, 2015.

Tornado season has arrived

Oklahoma’s governor declared a state of emergency for 25 counties Thursday, a day after severe weather whipped through large swathes of state, resulting in one death and widespread power outages.

Governor Mary Fallin announced the declaration in the city of Moore, after touring a stricken elementary school, according to NBC News. No students or staff were injured at the school, which was closed when the tornado hit.

“It’s hard to believe that two years later, we’re back at a Moore public school, surveying damage,” Fallin said. “I am very thankful that this school did not sustain damage during school hours.”

Outside Tulsa, a tornado cut through a mobile home park in the suburbs of Sand Springs Wednesday night, killing at least one person and injuring three others.

“Right now, rescue efforts are continuing and officers are aiding the injured and helping those who need immediate medical care,” Shannon Clark, with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, told CNN. “It’s very tough conditions right now — very touch and go. The conditions my people are working in right now are deplorable at best.”

Further south, near Oklahoma City, officials reported that another tornado touched down outside the town of Moore, overturning vehicles, uprooting trees and injuring at least three people. However, no deaths were reported in the area.

Thousands of Oklahoma residents were without power early Thursday as officials mobilized rescue efforts.

Read next: Doctors Can’t Explain Why People in Kazakhstan Are Falling Asleep For Days

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TIME LGBT

California Attorney General Blocks Initiative to Have Gays Executed

"This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society," Harris said

(SAN FRANCISCO) — California Attorney General Kamala Harris asked a state court on Wednesday for permission to reject a proposed ballot initiative stipulating that anyone who engages in gay sex be killed.

Harris issued a statement saying she was making the unusual request to stop the measure filed by a Southern California lawyer late last month. The initiative seeks to amend the California penal code to make sex with a person of the same gender an offense punishable by “bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.” The distribution of gay “propaganda” would be punishable by a $1 million fine or banishment from the state.

“This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society,” Harris said.

Matthew McLaughlin, the Orange County lawyer who paid $200 to submit the initiative, did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment. A Democratic state senator, Ricardo Lara, has asked the California bar to investigate whether McLaughlin’s actions make him unfit to practice law.

The measure puts Harris in a difficult position. Although the bill has no discernible momentum or likely chance of success, she said unless a judge rules otherwise, she will have no choice but to give McLaughlin the go-ahead to seek the nearly 366,000 votes needed to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot.

California is one of 21 states where citizens can petition to have laws put on the ballot through the gathering of voter signatures. Under California’s initiative process, state officials do not have authority to refuse to administer initiatives they find objectionable, the California Supreme Court has ruled. Although few of the dozens submitted to the attorney general each year make it on the ballot, the ease with which a resident with a pet peeve can gain clearance to circulate their proposals while seeking signatures has prompted calls for reform.

University of California, Davis law professor Floyd Feeney, an expert on California’s initiative process, said Harris alone cannot impede the proposed law. And despite the numerous legal problems with McLaughlin’s proposal, Feeney said he was not convinced a court would agree to halt it at this stage.

“The courts, rightly or wrongly, treat the initiative as sort of the citizen right and they are reluctant to get involved in trying to get rid of it, at least in advance, by using the law to keep something from being presented to the electorate,” he said.

On Wednesday, a Southern California real estate agent, Charlotte Laws, countered the so-called “Sodomite Suppression Act” with an initiative of her own. Titled the Intolerant Jackass Act, it would require anyone who proposes an initiative calling for the killing of gays and lesbians to attend sensitivity training and make a $5,000 donation to a pro-LGBT group.

Read next: The 10 Cities With the Highest LGBT Percentage in the U.S.

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TIME Transportation

Teen Drivers Get Distracted Far More Easily Than Any Parent Dares to Think

Distraction plays a role in four times as many teen driving accidents than previously estimated

Everyone complains about teenage drivers glued to their cellphones while on the road. But a new report and video from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA) shows just how dangerously distracted they are — much more than anyone thought.

The study found in 58 percent of moderate to severe crashes involving teen drivers, distractions played a part. That’s four times the previous official estimates.

In 2013, the most recent year for which there is data, 963,000 teenagers crashed a vehicle, killing 2,865 people and injuring 383,000 more.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says driver distraction caused 14% of all crashes, with 7% of those caused specifically by cellphone usage. But the new AAA study — reviewing more than 6,800 videos from inside cars from August 2007 to July 2013 — finds that the prevalence of distraction is way higher.

It says that at least 12% of teen car crashes involved cellphone usage, 5% higher than the official statistic.

The report additionally found that teenagers using a cellphone did not look at the road for an average 4.1 of the six seconds before a crash. When distracted by cellphones, teenagers failed to brake or steer appropriately, with most rear-end collisions caused by slower reaction times. Some 15% of teen crashes involved a driver inattentively chatting with at least one passenger.

TIME Crime

Families Mark 25th Anniversary of Club Fire That Killed 87

A memorial to those killed in the Happy Land social club fire in the Bronx, New York, March 19, 2015.
Seth Wenig—AP A memorial to those killed in the Happy Land social-club fire in the Bronx on March 19, 2015

Family members and friends commemorated 25th anniversary of a social-club fire that killed 90 people

(NEW YORK) — Family members and friends of victims gathered at a vigil Wednesday night to commemorate the 25th anniversary of a social club fire that killed almost 90 people. At the time, it was the biggest mass murder in U.S. history.

On March 25, 1990, a Cuban refugee named Julio Gonzalez tried to win back the woman who had spurned him.

Gonzalez entered the Happy Land social club in the Bronx, which was humming with people — mostly immigrants — partying and dancing. His former live-in girlfriend, Lydia Feliciano, was checking coats, and they had a virulent argument. Gonzalez was thrown out.

In a rage, he returned just after 3 a.m., splashing gasoline on Happy Land’s only guest exit and lighting two matches. Then he pulled down the metal front gate.

Within minutes, 87 people were dead.

On the day after the fire, as firefighters carried out the bodies, an icy drizzle descended on shocked relatives rushing to find out if their loved ones might be among the dead.

On Wednesday evening, again under a chilly drizzle, about 100 loved ones crowded around the granite memorial at the site of the club, their prayers in Spanish ringing into the night.

They were joined by firefighters and police officers whose departments had responded to the blaze.

Earlier, during a Roman Catholic Mass at a nearby church, family members stood at the altar, each reading aloud the names of those who perished.

The fire was the worst in New York City since 146 workers died in a blaze at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in what is today’s Greenwich Village. They were killed exactly 79 years earlier on March 25, 1911.

That spring night in 1990, people were smothered by black smoke or fatally burned. It happened so quickly that some appeared like frozen figures from Pompeii.

A few still had drinks in their hands. Some had torn off their party clothes, engulfed by flames. Others died hugging or holding hands. Bodies were piled up on Happy Land’s dance floor in the darkness, their faces covered with soot.

Jaffrey Gotay does not treasure memories of her father. She has none, because she was only 3 when he died, and her mother was pregnant with her sister.

“A lot of it is unknown, it’s missing out, not really knowing what could have been,” said Gotay, whose family buried her father, Denny Alvarez, in Trujillo, a town in Honduras where others killed in the fire also are buried.

“You don’t really remember, and that sucks,” she said, tears streaming down her face.

The sisters grew up writing letters to their absent dad each year on Father’s Day, placing them near his picture.

Gotay brought along her 17-month-old daughter, whom she’ll eventually tell how her grandfather died.

In 1990, Happy Land drew a noisy, happy crowd of mostly young people. The club had been ordered closed for fire hazards — no sprinklers or emergency exits — but continued to operate illegally.

About two-thirds of the victims were part of a Bronx community of so-called Garifunas — Hondurans descended from proud black natives of the Caribbean exiled by British colonizers more than two centuries ago. In recent years, many Garifunas have fled a repressive Honduran regime and settled in New York.

That fateful weekend, they were enjoying their go-to club, speaking their own language and dancing to their drum-driven Garifuna music.

Gonzalez, now 60, sits behind bars for life in an upstate New York prison. He was convicted of 174 counts of murder — two for each victim on charges of depraved indifference and felony murder.

A refugee from Fidel Castro’s Cuba, he arrived in New York in the Mariel boatlift of 1980. A decade later, he was working in a warehouse but lost his job six weeks before the fire, police said.

Earlier this month, Gonzalez was denied parole.

TIME Crime

California Woman Arrested for Trying to Steal Two Babies, Leading to One Death

Shooting Baby Death
Scott Varley—AP Long Beach police chief Robert Luna, left, and Mayor Robert Garcia stand during a news conference in Long Beach, Calif., on March 25, 2015

Giseleangelique Rene D'Milian wanted to convince her boyfriend that he was the children's father

In a crime that authorities could only describe as “evil,” a 47-year-old woman in Long Beach, Calif., stands accused of attempting to snatch two infants, resulting in the death of a 3-week-old girl and serious injuries to both of their mothers.

Colluding with three other suspects, Giseleangelique Rene D’Milian, of Thousand Oaks, hatched a plot to steal two children in order to convince her boyfriend that she had given birth to his twins while he was abroad, according to police.

D’Milian spotted her first victim in January, a woman with a newborn who had gotten off a bus and was walking home, reports the Associated Press. Accomplice Anthony McCall, 29, of Vista, waited a couple of hours before he kidnapped the newborn Eliza Delacruz, shooting both of her parents and an uncle in the melee. Eliza’s body was found the day in a dumpster around 100 miles south.

Then in February, D’Milian used a fake charity as a front for luring an acquaintance with a son who was only 4 months old to a hotel, where McCall then assaulted her with a baseball bat. However, he fled when staff were alerted to the ruckus.

“In my notes, I had the word evil several times, and my staff told me to take it out but I can’t summarize it any other way,” police chief Robert Luna told reporters.

D’Milian and McCall are being held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and conspiracy.

[AP]

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 weather

‘Extremely Dangerous’ Tornado Spotted Near Tulsa

Tornado near Tulsa, Okla. on March 25, 2015.
Spencer Courtney (@spencecourtney) via Instagram Spencer Courtney posted this photo of a tornado near Tulsa, Okla. on March 25, 2015.

According to a National Weather Service warning for residents nearby

A “confirmed extremely dangerous tornado” hit Wednesday evening near Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to the National Weather Service, which warned residents nearby: “You are in a life threatening situation.”

The tornado was spotted at 6:02 p.m. (7:02 p.m. ET) and was moving east at 40 mph in the genral direction of Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Catoosa, Verdigris, Oneta and Inola, the weather service said.

“Flying debris will be deadly to those caught without shelter,” it said.

NBC station KJRH of Tulsa reported that homes and vehicles had been damaged…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

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 Crime

Nevada Prison Inmate Died of Multiple Gunshots, Coroner Says

Carlos Manuel Perez JrCarlos Manuel Perez Jr., 28. .
Nevada Department of Corrections/AP Carlos Manuel Perez Jr., 28.

Carlos Manuel Perez Jr. died last November of wounds to the head, neck, chest and arms

(LAS VEGAS) — The coroner in Las Vegas says the death of a Nevada state prison inmate by multiple gunshots more than four months ago was a homicide.

Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy said Wednesday that 28-year-old Carlos Manuel Perez Jr. died Nov. 12, 2014, at High Desert State Prison of multiple gunshot wounds to the head, neck, chest and arms.

Murphy says a homicide ruling means Perez died at the hands of another person. It doesn’t establish fault.

There’s no immediate word from state officials about who was involved in the shooting or whether anyone else was hurt.

State Department of Corrections officials didn’t immediately respond to messages.

Spokeswomen for Gov. Brian Sandoval and state Attorney General Adam Laxalt say an investigation is ongoing.

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