TIME Family & Relationships

This Guy Had the Police Pull Him Over So He Could Pop the Question

Watch how a prank ends in a proposal

A man who got pulled over by a police officer on April 17, 2013, while on a first date asked the police department to pull him over again exactly two years later so he could propose to the same woman.

In a clip uploaded by the YouTube channel for the police department in Royal Oak, Mich., an officer tells the couple to get out of the car and asks the woman named Ashley, “Can you explain what this is?” She starts laughing hysterically, then says yes.

Police in Galveston, Texas, participated in a similar stunt, helping a fellow cop pull over his girlfriend for a broken taillight and outstanding warrants. (She also said yes.)

TIME A Year In Space

The Sweetest Little Space Flight You Ever Saw But Probably Missed

The SpaceX Dragon took a big step toward proving its fitness to carry crews

NASA flew a teeny-tiny, 90-second, unmanned mission this morning—and you should care about it a lot. Here’s why.

The flying object that lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 9 a.m. EDT and splashed down about a mile away in the Atlantic at 9:01:30 after climbing just 5,000 ft. (1,500 m) was a test version of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. Dragon has been making unmanned cargo trips to the International Space Station since 2015 and will start carrying crews in 2017. But carrying crews is an order of magnitude more dangerous than carrying equipment and supplies, and that means a great many additional safety drills. One of the most important of those is what’s known as the pad abort test.

MORE: See the Trailer for TIME’s Unprecedented New Series: A Year in Space

Liftoff is easily among the most dangerous parts of any space mission, when the controlled bomb that is the rocket roars to life with a pod full of astronauts sitting atop it. Ever since the days of the Mercury program—when there was just a single crewman aboard—NASA knew it needed a way to get that pod out of harm’s way if the booster seemed set to blow. And so spacecraft were equipped with escape towers, little scaffolds at the very tip of the rocket stack outfitted with mini-rockets that would ignite at the first sign of trouble and pull the capsule up and away.

That was the system that was tested today, with no booster involved and nothing but the 20-ft. (6 m) capsule and trunk on the launch pad. While that didn’t make for terribly dramatic TV, it was, in its own way, a very dramatic mission—if only because of the sleek engineering at work. SpaceX’s escape system does away with the tower part of the escape tower, embedding its mini-rockets into the base of the capsule itself. When they ignite, they thus push the capsule from below as opposed to pulling it from above, which provides greater stability.

It takes eight engines to lift the 8-ton vehicle, each producing 15,000 lbs. (6,800 kg) of thrust. The collective 120,000 lbs. (54,000 kg) is about twice the oomph of the Redstone rocket that carried America’s first astronaut, Alan Shepard, on his popgun suborbital flight in 1961.

The Dragon that flew today was stuffed with sensors to measure thrust, temperature, structural stresses and more, as well as a microphone to record internal acoustics and a camera to beam back on-board visuals. It also carried a human dummy, nicknamed Buster, to determine the g-loads on a passenger.

The eyeblink mission ended with the Dragon descending under three red and white parachutes into the ocean, just as a real Dragon mission will—and just as the old Apollo spacecraft did. Indeed, NASA TV made something of a point of comparing this splashdown to the triumphant returns long-ago crews made from the moon. That analogy may have been overwrought, but only a little. Ever since the last shuttle flew, the U.S. has had no spacecraft capable of getting astronauts to space. Today’s tiny flight was a big step back.

MONEY Customer Service

Hate Comcast? Company Says It’s Working on That

Comcast has revealed a multi-year plan to fix its customer service problems, including a credit to your account if a technician shows up late.

TIME Accident

This Frightening Video Shows a Tree Falling on a Children’s Playground

"I am wishing both of the injured children a speedy recovery"

A large tree collapsed at a park in Chelsea, Mass. Monday evening, injuring two children and leaving the park closed for inspection, the city police department announced in a press release.

The collapse, captured on video, occurred in the “children’s playing area” of the park. Children can be seen running and playing in the seconds before the tree falls. The two injured boys, ages 2 and 8, were transported to local hospitals and were being treated for serious injuries.

“I am wishing both of the injured children a speedy recovery and am grateful that others in the park escaped injury,” said Chelsea Police Chief Brian A. Kyes in a statement.

TIME movies

This Is What It’s Like to Play Big Bird on Sesame Street for 45 Years

Caroll Spinney has spent nearly half a century donning a big yellow bird suit. Now, he's the subject of the new documentary I Am Big Bird

Something has been happening to Caroll Spinney lately that hasn’t happened in his half-century in show business: He’s getting recognized on the street. And not as Big Bird, but as Caroll Spinney. Spinney has spent 45 years hidden inside the feathery costume of the most recognizable children’s character this side of Mickey Mouse. And now that a new documentary, I Am Big Bird, tells the story of the man behind the bird, the bearer of some of the most endearing vocal chords on television is getting his due.

The documentary, directed and produced by Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker and out May 6 in theaters, VOD and iTunes, paints a portrait of a man who’s been dedicated to puppetry since the moment he first learned what a puppet was. Drawing on hundreds of hours of footage taken by Spinney and his wife Debra—whose love story gives the film much of its heart—it’s a behind-the-feathers look at the soul of Sesame Street.

Spinney spoke to TIME about the moment he fell for puppetry, how Big Bird evolved into the bird he is today and his hopes for the big yellow bird’s future.

TIME: What was it about puppets that entranced you as a child?

Caroll Spinney: I saw my first [puppet] show when I was five years old, and I thought it was fabulous they were telling a story using little things on their hands. A few years later, I saw another show at a little festival and that really clinched it for me. For Christmas, [my mother] built me a little theater, and after I saw the puppets, my eyes popped out. She didn’t realize she was giving me my career that day.

And you also did animation work early in your career?

I discovered after four years that I really did not enjoy doing animation. I discovered how boring it can be. I’d work all week on an animation and then we’d film it and it went by in about 2-and-a-half seconds. With performing, you can hear the applause. TV is so exciting—all my early shows were always live.

In the documentary, there’s a lot of talk about you and Big Bird being one and the same. Where does Big Bird end and Caroll Spinney begin?

Well of course, he’s a puppet. He was initially a goofy kind of guy. But it wasn’t long into the show that it occurred to me that it would be better if I played Big Bird like he was a great big child—he’s 8-feet-2—and that way he could be learning the alphabet. Within two weeks he was fully transformed into a 4-and-a-half-year-old. Within a year the writers had made him smarter, so I decided he was six. And there he remains—he’ll always be six.

How do you play a character that’s a child as you get older?

I have a strong memory of my early childhood. I can remember life before I was two. I remember being toilet-trained like it was last week—and it wasn’t last week. I can still speak an octave or so higher in speech, so I just speak a little higher. I don’t mean to be cute—it just seems to come out that way.

What’s it like to play a character that is universally recognized, but not necessarily have a face that gets recognized on the street?

I’m almost never recognized. Lately because of the publicity for the movie, a few people have come up to me in airports. But I’d been asked, years ago, didn’t it bother me to have Big Bird be so famous and me totally unknown. I thought of that as one of the positives, that you’re not bothered because nobody knows who you are. You’re just another person.

What’s one of the greatest lessons you learned from Jim Henson?

You can exaggerate with puppets. You’re not trying to look like real people. The way the Muppets are designed is really appealing. Puppets are best if they’re exaggerated creatures.

What are your hopes for Big Bird in the future, after you stop playing him?

For about 18 years I’ve had a stand-in, named Matt Vogel. The irony of that is “vogel” is the German word for bird. He’s a very patient man because he still doesn’t play Big Bird all the time. Lately he’s doing it while I still do the voice. Occasionally I still climb into the bird, but I must admit, I was 35 when I got the job and now over 45 years later, I’m getting to be somehow in my 80s. What a surprise.

Do you think that Big Bird will change?

Eventually Matt will be taking over, and the voice will be slightly different. Big Bird is based on what I learned as a child. We put some of ourselves into it, so I’m sure that the bird will change a little bit. Jim talked about that the day he hired me. He said, I hope these characters can live on beyond our own lives. Most people don’t hold a job for 45 years. They pass on or want to retire. I don’t want to retire. My real goal is to do 50 years on Sesame Street, and I only got 4-and-a-half years to go.

TIME Crime

Gunman’s Hashtag Hinted at Texas Cartoon Contest Plot

(PHOENIX) — About 20 minutes before the shooting at a Texas cartoon contest that featured images of the Prophet Muhammad, a final tweet posted on an account linked to one of the gunmen said: “May Allah accept us as mujahideen,” or holy warriors.

Simpson played basketball as a freshman at Yavapai College, a junior college in Prescott, Arizona, for the 2002-2003 season before leaving school, said then-assistant coach Jeff Renegar.

A former teammate, Keion Kindred, said the two would discuss everything from family life, movies and cartoons, to their love for basketball and their ability to play pool.

“Elton was a good kid, he was a comedian of some sort. We were young, so he was like every 18- to 19-year-old in college, trying to have fun and figure it out,” said Kindred, who lost contact with him after 2005.

It’s not known how or when Simpson met Soofi.

Soofi was born in the Dallas area, raised Muslim and later spent part of his childhood in Pakistan, according to his family.

Soofi was an undergraduate pre-medicine major at the University of Utah from fall of 1998 to the summer of 2003, said university spokeswoman Maria O’Mara. She said he did not earn a degree.

Utah court records show Soofi had several brushes with police during his time in the state. He pleaded to possession of alcohol by a minor, alcohol-related reckless driving and driving on a suspended license in 2001, court records show, and misdemeanor assault the following year.

Simpson had worshipped at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix for about a decade, but he quit showing up over the past two or three months, the president of the mosque told The Associated Press.

The center’s president, Usama Shami, said Simpson would play basketball with mosque members and was involved with the community. Soofi owned a nearby pizza business and would stop in to pray occasionally, sometimes bringing with him his young son, he said.

“They didn’t show any signs of radicalization,” Shami said.

IS recently urged those in the United States, Europe and Australia who cannot safely travel to fight in Syria and Iraq to carry out jihad in the countries where they live.

An audio statement on the extremist group’s Al Bayan radio station called the men “two soldiers of the caliphate.”

___

Watson reported from San Diego.

TIME Media

Pregnant Supermodel Poses Nude for PETA to Protest SeaWorld

Marisa Miller says "any mother knows theā€¦ connection you have with your baby"

Supermodel Marisa Miller, who is currently pregnant with her second child, posed naked in a bathtub for a PETA campaign accusing SeaWorld of separating orca calves from their mothers.

“Being a mom and seeing Blackfish, it was extremely emotional,” Miller, a former Victoria’s Secret model and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover star, said in the PSA, referring to the high-profile documentary about SeaWorld. “I think any mother knows the sense of protection and connection you have with your baby.”

The PETA campaign’s allegations echo those of former SeaWorld orca trainer John Hargrove, who in a March interview with NPR about his SeaWorld-critical book said, via Huffington Post:

“As I became higher-ranked, I saw the devastating effects of captivity on these whales and it just really became a moral and ethical issue. When you first start to see it, you first try to say, ‘OK, well, I love these animals; I’m going to take care of them.’ … You think, ‘I can change things.’ And then all these things, of course, never improve and then you start … seeing mothers separated from their calves; you start seeing trainers being killed, and then they blame [the trainers] for their own deaths.”

SeaWorld has denied the claims of both PETA and Hargrove. “Contrary to what you see in PETA’s campaign, SeaWorld understands the importance of keeping killer whale mothers and their dependent calves together,” it said in a statement. “Mothers provide support and nutrition and we do not and would not interfere with that, unless the mother or calf’s life was in danger.”

PETA
TIME Aviation

Germanwings Co-Pilot Apparently Practiced Controlled Descent Before Deadly Crash

New revelations in a crash that killed 150

(PARIS)—The co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 4525 tried a controlled descent on the previous flight that morning to Barcelona before the plane crashed into a mountainside in March on its way back to Germany, French air accident investigators said in a new report released Wednesday.

Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz repeatedly set the plane into a descent, then brought it back up again on a flight on the same A320 jet from Duesseldorf to Barcelona, the BEA investigation agency said in the report.

The report said the pilot appeared to have left the cockpit during that flight as well.

Cockpit data shows that Lubitz put the plane into descent mode five times in a four and half-minute period during the Duesseldorf-Barcelona leg.

The report is only an interim report. The BEA said it is continuing to look at the “systemic failings that may have led to this accident or similar events.”

The investigators said their main focus is on “the current balance between medical confidentiality and flight safety” and the “compromises” made on security after the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S., notably on cockpit door locking systems.

Prosecutors have previously said Lubitz intentionally crashed the plane on its return flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf in the French Alps on March 24, killing all 150 on board.

Lufthansa spokesman Helmut Tolksdorf said by phone from Frankfurt that the airline had not yet had time to analyze the new details released by French authorities and planned no immediate comment. Lufthansa is the parent company of Germanwings.

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