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March 12, 2014
Flickr CC By: Adnan Islam

At least two women are dead, 18 are injured and several others are missing following an explosion that toppled two buildings in Manhattan this morning. In a press conference, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the East Harlem blast was a "tragedy of the worst kind." He confirmed that the cause was a gas leak and not an act of terrorism. The gas leak was reported to Con Edison about 15 minutes before the explosion, he said.

"This is going to be an extended operation," he said, adding that the FDNY will conduct a "thorough search" of the area. The fire is still not under control, and is hampering search efforts by rescuers. Once the flames are contained, firefighters will begin sifting through the debris to locate victims.

Newsday has more from the mayor's press conference.

Jordan Valinsky

2:37 p.m. ET
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Customers in a Didsbury, England, coffee shop began to "freak out" after they heard shouting and "gunshot-like bangs," prompting one man to dive head-first out a window to escape, Metro reports. The Costa Coffee patrons believed they were experiencing a terrorist attack — although the sounds turned out to be noisy school children banging their trays downstairs.

"It sounded like shots were being fired. It was not just me who thought that," one woman who asked not to be named by The Manchester Evening News said. "Other people were running around trying to get out on to the balcony but the door was locked. I think that's why the man went for one of the front windows. When I looked round I could only see his feet hanging from the window. He was climbing out head first. To be honest I wasn't surprised by his reaction because we all thought an attack was happening. It sounded like there was a shooting downstairs. I was expecting people wearing balaclavas and carrying guns to come upstairs."

The man who jumped out the window is suspected of breaking his arm, and was taken to the hospital. Costa Coffee wishes him a speedy recovery. Jeva Lange

2:13 p.m. ET
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"There are a number of things in life that can calm down just about anybody; burning wood fires, and hanging out in hot tubs are chief among them," says J.D. Digiovanni at HiConsumption.com.

The Soak outdoor wood-fired hot tub ($4,450), created by a Canadian design and fabrication firm, combines both pleasures. Made from marine-grade aluminum, stainless steel, and red cedar, this tub for two heats up via a wood fire or propane. The tub's Bauhaus-inspired modernist lines aren't what you expect from a wood-fired tub, but the look is "a great fit for almost any backyard." The Week Staff

2:00 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Verizon reached a deal Friday with two labor unions representing 39,000 employees, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez has announced. The four-year agreement is now being put into writing, and the employees are expected to go back to work next week.

The deal puts an end to six weeks of strikes over pay and pension cuts. Between 35,000 and 39,000 Verizon employees walked off their jobs in April, making it the largest strike in U.S. history.

"This tentative resolution is a testament to the power of collective bargaining. I commend the leadership of Verizon, CWA, and IBEW for their commitment to resolving these difficult issues in the spirit of constructive engagement. I expect that workers will be back on the job next week,” Perez said in a statement. Jeva Lange

12:41 p.m. ET
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As the remaining Republican hold-outs against Donald Trump hunker down for the long haul, Mitt Romney is finding himself in lonelier and lonelier company. Having repeatedly spoken out against Trump to seemingly no avail, Romney confessed to The Wall Street Journal, "I know that some people are offended that someone who lost and is the former nominee continues to speak, but that's how I can sleep at night. And there are some people, though it's a small number, who still value my opinion."

Romney said that he realizes his comments against Trump could ultimately help Hillary Clinton, and he is still looking for a candidate who he can support in November. He will write one in if need be. "Others, including myself, believe our first priority should be to stand by our principles and if those are in conflict with the nominee, the principles come first," Romney said.

Trump has repeatedly countered Romney's attacks, calling him a "choker" and claiming "I've got a store worth more than he is." But when Romney's son Josh asked in March, "When the grandkids ask, 'What did you do to stop Donald Trump?' what are you going to say?" Romney realized there was only one way he was going to get through this election with a good conscience.

"I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn't ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world," Romney said. Jeva Lange

11:55 a.m. ET
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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is voting for you know who in the presidential election. Though Rubio didn't come right out and say that he'd be voting for his former rival Donald Trump, it was heavily implied in his tweets Friday where he said that come November, not only will he not be voting for Hillary Clinton, but he also won't be abstaining from voting. That leaves just one other option:

Rubio followed up that tweet with emphasis on the fact that his change of heart has more to do with preventing Hillary Clinton from becoming president than suddenly loving Trump:

Just months ago, Rubio was chastising Trump for his supposedly little hands, calling him everything from an "embarrassment" to a "person that has no ideas of any substance on the important issues." So far, his supporters haven't been thrilled with his changed tone on Trump:

The true test for Rubio's new alliance will be whether he sticks with his original plan to sit out on the Senate race because a "real good friend" of his from Florida is now running, or whether he heeds Trump's advice and runs. Becca Stanek

11:10 a.m. ET

Bernie Sanders supporter Victor Vizcarra has — hands down — the most casually terrifying quote of the day:

It's like Batman's butler always said: Some people just want to watch the world burn. Jeva Lange

10:57 a.m. ET
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

Even though Donald Trump thinks he "looks like a spoiled brat," embattled pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli is still going to support him in the presidential race. In a tweet late Thursday, Shkreli — who gained infamy as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals after raising the price of a drug by more than 5,000 percent — announced that he'd be voting for Trump over Hillary Clinton:

All Shkreli thinks Trump needs now is a running mate who is "seasoned in politics." But don't worry, it won't be him:

At least that's one bullet dodged. Becca Stanek

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