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]

TIME Law

Indiana Governor Says Religious Objections Law Is ‘Not About Discrimination’

Mike Pence
Michael Conroy—AP Indiana Gov. Mike Pence holds a news conference at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, March 26, 2015.

"We're not going to change this law"

(INDIANAPOLIS) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence defended the new state law that’s garnered widespread criticism over concerns it could foster discrimination and said Sunday it wasn’t a mistake to have enacted it.

Pence appeared on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” to discuss the measure he signed last week prohibiting state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of “person” includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.

Since the Republican governor signed the bill into law Thursday, Indiana has been widely criticized by businesses and organizations around the nation, as well as on social media with the hashtag #boycottindiana. Already, consumer review service Angie’s List has said it will suspend a planned expansion in Indianapolis because of the new law.

Pence did not answer directly when asked at least six times whether under the law it would be legal for a merchant to refuse to serve gay customers. “This is not about discrimination, this is about empowering people to confront government overreach,” he said. Asked again, he said, “Look, the issue here is still is tolerance a two-way street or not.”

Pence told the Indianapolis Star on Saturday that he was in discussions with legislative leaders over the weekend and expects a clarification bill to be introduced in the coming week. He addressed that Sunday, saying, “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.”

But Pence was adamant that the measure, slated to take effect in July, will stick. “We’re not going to change this law,” Pence said.

Some national gay-rights groups say it’s a way for lawmakers in Indiana and several others states where such bills have been proposed this year to essentially grant a state-sanctioned waiver for discrimination as the nation’s highest court prepares to mull the gay marriage question.

Supporters of the law, including Pence, contend discrimination claims are overblown and insist it will keep the government from compelling people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds. They also maintain courts haven’t allowed discrimination under similar laws covering the federal government and 19 other states. Arkansas is poised to follow in Indiana’s footsteps, with a final vote expected next week in the House on legislation that Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he’ll sign.

Josh Earnest, President Barack Obama’s spokesman, appeared on “This Week” just after Pence, and said the debate isn’t a political argument.

“If you have to go back two decades to try to justify what you’re doing today, it may raise questions,” Earnest said, referring to the 1993 federal law Pence brought up. He added that Pence “is in damage-control mode this morning and he’s got some damage to fix.”

State Rep. Ed DeLaney, an Indianapolis Democrat, told a large, boisterous crowd Saturday gathered outside of the Statehouse to protest that the law creates “a road map, a path to discrimination.” Rally attendees chanted “Pence must go!” several times and held signs that read “No hate in our state.”

Pence addressed the critics Sunday, saying: “This avalanche of intolerance that’s been poured on our state is just outrageous.” Asked if he would be willing to add sexual orientation to the list of characteristics against which discrimination is illegal, he said, “I will not push for that. That’s not on my agenda, and that’s not been an objective of the people of the state of Indiana.”

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, released a video statement on his Facebook page Saturday, saying: “We’ll work together to reverse SB101 and we’ll stand together to make sure that here in Indiana, we welcome everyone, every day.”

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican who opposed the law, has said he and other city officials will talk with businesses and convention planners to counter the uproar.

Angie’s List had sought an $18.5 million incentive package from Indianapolis’ City-County Council to add 1,000 jobs over five years. But founder and CEO Bill Oseterle said in a statement Saturday that the expansion was on hold “until we fully understand the implications of the freedom restoration act on our employees.”

The Indianapolis-based NCAA has expressed concerns about the law and has suggested it could move future events elsewhere; the men’s Final Four will be held in the city next weekend.

___

Associated Press writers Tom Davies and Rick Callahan contributed to this report.

TIME Religion

The Pope’s Silversmith is Creating an All-American Chalice

Pope Francis stands next to Argentinian craftsman Adrian Pallarols as he poses for the family photo with international football players at the Vatican on Sept. 2014 prior to an inter-religious "match for peace" soccer game that played at Rome's Olympic Stadium.
Vincenzo Pinto—AFP/Getty Images Argentinian silversmith Adrián Pallaros and Pope Francis pose with international soccer players at the Vatican on Sept. 2014 prior to an inter-religious "match for peace" soccer game that was played at Rome's Olympic Stadium.

It would be made from silver donated by Americans from around the country

An Argentinian silversmith is in New York City this week drumming up support for an unusual project: a silver communion chalice for the pope’s upcoming trip to the United States.

A seventh-generation silversmith who has known Pope Francis for more than a decade, Adrián Pallarols intends to make the chalice by melting down silver jewelry—”an earring, a little ring you don’t use,” anything with silver in it—donated by Americans from across the country.

Pallarols, 43, says Pope Francis would use the chalice during a mass when he visits New York City in September. Neither the Vatican nor the Archdiocese of New York has yet confirmed where that might be held. With a design featuring a map of the United States in the center of the handle plus the donated metals, the symbolism would be rich, Pallaros argues.

“Everybody, the whole country, will be in the prayers of Pope Francis here in New York when he lifts the chalice in the consecration,” Pallarols says. “Everybody can be in his hands for the prayers.”

Pallarols presented the idea for the chalice to Pope Francis in a private audience last month. He says any extra silver will be sold and the proceeds donated to Pope Francis’ efforts with the poor in the United States.

Courtesy of Adrian Pallaros

His family began handcrafting and designing silver in the 1750s in Barcelona, and they continued when they moved to Argentina in 1804. In recent years, the family’s clients have included Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and Frank Sinatra, according to Vatican News.

When Pope Francis was still Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, he married Pallarols and his wife, and later he baptized their daughter. The Cardinal would stop by Pallaros’ workshop, Pallarols recalls, and chat about art and music. The Pallarols family crafted the chalice that Cardinal Bergoglio presented to Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, and after Bergoglio was named Pope, they crafted the personal chalice that Pope Francis uses for masses at his Vatican residence at Santa Marta, as well as various other projects.

Pallarols says the idea for the chalice came when he was approached for a paid assignment to create a cup for the pope’s New York visit. He recalled how then-Cardinal Bergoglio would often bring him gifts of silver he had received to sell and use the proceeds to buy food, clothes and blankets for the poor.

That’s a philosophy Pallarols wanted to bring to bear on this effort. Not only can thousands of Americans contribute a meaningful memento from their own life stories to the chalice, but the poor would also benefit from the overflowing of contributions.

“When you have a lot of money, you have chances to get a special place, because you can give a lot of money,” says Pallarols. “But in this way, having a little part of each person who will send a bit of silver, they can feel they can participate and they can see this piece of silver will get to the hands of Pope Francis.”

The project is still in the early stages, and Pallarols still has a lot of work ahead for it all to work. He aims to finalize the details during his trip to New York this week, and he is working to arrange the banking and donation details to meet Internal Revenue Service requirements and recruit corporate sponsors to help receive and mail the silver from around the country to one central location.

He plans to melt the silver pieces in New York into an ingot to transport to Buenos Aires to craft it into the chalice at his workshop. Pallaros says he can craft the chalice in one to two months, but he needs to have all the metal by June in order to finish the project by September.

“My biggest concern is not the constructing, it is the raising of the metal and participation of the people,” he says.

 

TIME Religion

Indiana Governor Plans to Clarify Religious Objections Law

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence holds a news conference at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on March 26, 2015.
Michael Conroy—AP Indiana Gov. Mike Pence holds a news conference at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on March 26, 2015.

Pence disputes the law allows state-sanctioned anti-gay discrimination

(INDIANAPOLIS) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says he will support legislation to “clarify the intent” of a new state law that has attracted widespread criticism over concerns it could allow discrimination against gay people.

In an interview Saturday with the Indianapolis Star, the Republican governor said he’s been in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend. He expects that a clarification bill will be introduced this coming week to the religious objections law he signed Thursday. Pence declined to provide details but told the newspaper that making gay and lesbian Indiana residents a protected legal class is “not on my agenda.”

Pence disputes that the law allows state-sanctioned anti-gay discrimination, as some Indiana businesses, convention organizers and others have argued. He says he didn’t anticipate “the hostility that’s been directed at our state.”

Since Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law Thursday, Indiana has been widely criticized by businesses and organizations around the nation, as well as on social media with the hashtag #boycottindiana. And the fallout began Saturday, when consumer review service Angie’s List said it will suspend a planned expansion in Indianapolis because of the new law.

The measure, which takes effect in July, prohibits state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of “person” includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.

Pence and other supporters of the law contend discrimination claims are overblown and insist it will keep the government from compelling people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds. They also maintain that courts haven’t allowed discrimination under similar laws covering the federal government and 19 other states.

But state Rep. Ed DeLaney, an Indianapolis Democrat, said Indiana’s law goes further and opens the door to discrimination.

“This law does not openly allow discrimination, no, but what it does is create a road map, a path to discrimination,” he told the large, boisterous crowd that gathered outside of the Statehouse on Saturday. “Indiana’s version of this law is not the same as that in other states. It adds all kinds of new stuff and it moves us further down the road to discrimination.”

Saturday’s crowd, for which police didn’t have an exact estimate, chanted “Pence must go!” several times and many people held signs like “I’m pretty sure God doesn’t hate anyone” and “No hate in our state.”

In the newspaper interview, Pence said he didn’t expect the reaction the law has generated.

“I just can’t account for the hostility that’s been directed at our state,” he said. “I’ve been taken aback by the mischaracterizations from outside the state of Indiana about what is in this bill.”

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, released a video statement on his Facebook page Saturday, saying: “We’ll work together to reverse SB101 and we’ll stand together to make sure that here in Indiana, we welcome everyone, every day.”

Among those who attended Saturday’s rally was Jennifer Fox, a 40-year-old from Indianapolis who was joined by her wife, Erin Fox, and their two boys, ages 5 and 8, and other relatives.

Fox said they married last June on the first day that same-sex marriage became legal in Indiana under a federal court ruling. She believes the religious objections law is a sort of reward to Republican lawmakers and conservative Christian constituents who strongly opposed legalizing gay marriage in the state.

“I believe that’s where this is coming from — to find ways to push their own agenda, which is not a religious agenda; it’s aimed at a specific section of people,” Fox said.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican who opposed the law, said he and other city officials would be talking to many businesses and convention planners to counter the uproar.

Angie’s List had sought an $18.5 million incentive package from Indianapolis’ City-County Council to add 1,000 jobs over five years. But founder and CEO Bill Oseterle said in a statement Saturday that the expansion was on hold “until we fully understand the implications of the freedom restoration act on our employees.”

The Indianapolis-based NCAA has expressed concerns about the law and has suggested it could move future events elsewhere; the men’s Final Four will be held in the city next weekend.

___

Associated Press writer Tom Davies contributed to this report.

 

TIME LGBT

Hundreds Rally Against Indiana’s Religious Objections Law

Protesters
Doug McSchooler—AP Thousands of opponents of Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, gathered on the lawn of the Indiana State House to rally against that legislation, March 28, 2015.

"No hate in our state"

(INDIANAPOLIS)—Hundreds of people gathered outside of the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday, some carrying “no hate in our state” signs, to rally against a new law that opponents say could sanction discrimination against gay people.

The law’s supporters, however, contend the discrimination claims are overblown and insist it will keep the government from compelling people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds.

Since Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law Thursday, Indiana has been widely criticized by businesses and organizations around the country, as well as on social media with the hashtag #boycottindiana. Local officials and business groups around the state hope to stem the fallout, though consumer review service Angie’s List said Saturday that it is suspending a planned expansion in Indianapolis because of the new law.

The measure, which takes effect in July, prohibits state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of “person” includes religious institutions, businesses and associations. It will take effect in July.

Saturday’s crowd, for which police didn’t have an exact estimate, stretched across the south steps and lawn of the Statehouse building. At one point, they chanted “Pence must go,” and many held signs like “I’m pretty sure God doesn’t hate anyone” and “No hate in our state.”

Zach Adamson, a Democrat on Indianapolis’ City-County Council, said to cheers that the law has nothing to do with religious freedom but everything to do with discrimination.

“This isn’t 1950 Alabama, it’s 2015 Indiana,” he told those in attendance, adding that the law has brought embarrassment on the state.

He and other speakers urged people to register to vote, and said only way to stop laws like this is to elect new members of the Indiana General Assembly.

Supporters of the law maintain that in courts haven’t allowed discrimination to happen under similar laws covering the federal government and in 19 other states.

But some national gay-rights groups say lawmakers in Indiana and about a dozen other states that have proposed such bills this year are essentially granting a state-sanctioned waiver for discrimination as the nation’s highest court prepares to mull the gay marriage question.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican who opposed the law, said he and other city officials would be talking to many businesses and convention planners to counter the uproar the law has caused. “I’m more concerned about making sure that everyone knows they can come in here and feel welcome,” Ballard said.

The Indianapolis-based NCAA has expressed concerns about the law and has suggested it could move future events elsewhere; the men’s Final Four will be held in the city next weekend.

Angie’s List had sought an $18.5 million incentive package from Indianapolis’ City-County Council to add 1,000 jobs over five years. But founder and CEO Bill Oseterle said in a statement Saturday that the expansion was on hold “until we fully understand the implications of the freedom restoration act on our employees.”

Around the state, stickers touting “This business serves everyone” have been appearing in many businesses’ windows, and groups such as the Indiana Chamber of Commerce have taken to social media with messages that the state is full of welcoming businesses. Democratic South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg touted on Twitter his city’s civil rights ordinance’s protections for gays and lesbians, while Republican Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke wrote that the law “sends the wrong message about Indiana.”

Indianapolis’ tourism and convention business is estimated to have a $4.4 billion annual economic impact with some 75,000 jobs. Chris Gahl, a vice president with tourism agency Visit Indy, said: “We know that their ability to work is largely dependent on our ability to score convention business and draw in events and visitors.”

TIME Crime

7 People Shot at Florida Spring Break Party

A suspect was arrested after the shooting

A spring break party in Florida turned violent early Saturday after seven people, including students, were shot at a Panama City Beach home, officials said. One of the victims was shot in the head and others were hit multiple times, and were fighting for their lives at local hospitals.

A suspect was arrested after the shooting—identified as David Jamichael Daniels, 22, of Mobile, Ala.—and was being held in Bay County jail on seven counts of attempted murder, according to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

A .40-caliber handgun was recovered in the backyard of the residence, Bay County…

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

TIME Drugs

Dad Thinks He Has a Stroke After Accidentally Eating Daughter’s Pot Brownies

200455593-001
Thomas Barwick—Getty Images Double-chocolate brownie missing one bite

The 17-year-old admitted to putting a special ingredient in the baked goods

A father in Michigan called 911 after mistakenly eating several pot brownies his daughter had baked the night before. He said he thought he was having a stroke.

Firefighters and policemen responded to the call, at which point officials say the man’s 17-year-old daughter admitted to putting a special ingredient in the baked goods: marijuana. Police did not release the names of the father and daughter.

The 58-year-old father was taken to the hospital but has since been released and is in good health. Police took the remaining brownies to a lab for analysis. Officials said they had not yet determined whether the teenager would be charged with possession, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Though medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, those who don’t hold a medical marijuana card can be charged with a misdemeanor. Those found guilty face up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized or legalized marijuana.

[Detroit Free Press]

TIME Education

Boy With Special Needs Told He Can’t Wear Varsity Letter Jacket

The high school student was told to take his jacket off

A Kansas mom is outraged after her son, who has special needs, was forced by his school to remove his varsity letter jacket.

Jolinda Kelley of Wichita, Kansas, bought a varsity letter for her son Michael’s letter jacket after he was recognized for participation for playing basketball, but she says when Michael wore it to school he was asked to take it off.

“Another parent, from what I’ve been told, was upset that my son was wearing his letter jacket,” Kelley told Wichita’s KSNW.

She said Michael took off the jacket and was given a girl’s sweatshirt to wear instead…

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

TIME Civil Rights

Ole Miss Student Who Hung Noose on Statue Indicted on Civil Rights Charges

University of Mississippi Campus
Wesley Hitt—Getty Images James H. Meredith statue on the campus of the University of Mississippi on April 12, 2008 in Oxford, Miss.

The statue was of James Meredith, the first black student to attend Ole Miss

The man who tied a noose around the neck of a statue of James Meredith at Ole Miss last year will face federal civil rights charges, the Justice Department announced Friday, as the prank was intended to “intimidate” black students and faculty at the school.

Graeme Phillip Harris will face federal charges for hanging a noose and an outdated Georgia flag around the statue of James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first black student to attend Ole Miss. According to the Justice Department, Harris “conspired with others under the cover of darkness” to execute the prank, which the indictment said was intended to “threaten and intimidate” black students at the University.

“This shameful and ignorant act is an insult to all Americans and a violation of our most strongly-held values,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “No one should ever be made to feel threatened or intimidated because of what they look like or who they are. By taking appropriate action to hold wrongdoers accountable, the Department of Justice is sending a clear message that flagrant infringements of our historic civil rights will not go unnoticed or unpunished.”

Harris and his co-conspirators were members of Sigma Phi Epsilon, and their actions (along with other hazing incidents) prompted the national organization to suspend the Ole Miss Chapter, according to an email to members from Grand President Philip Cox.

 

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