March 19, 2014

A 56-year-old homeless man died last month in a Rikers Island jail cell due to extreme heat, according to the Associated Press. Citing a handful of anonymous officials, the AP reports that Jerome Murdough — a mentally ill veteran who was locked up for trespassing in a Harlem stairwell to escape the February cold — was found dead in a cell that had been inadvertently overheated to at least 100 degrees.

"He basically baked to death," one of the officials told the AP. Murdough was reportedly taking anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medication, which may have made him more susceptible to the heat. There is as yet no official cause of death. Jon Terbush

2:29 p.m. ET

United Airlines won't load any more large animals on flights until it figures out what's going wrong with its furry passengers.

Last week, a dog died after it was put in an overhead compartment. The next day, a German Shepherd from Kansas was swapped with a Great Dane and sent to Japan. Two days after that, another flight was diverted to drop off a pet that had been loaded on the wrong plane.

The mistakes prompted United to announce it would suspend PetSafe, its program for transporting large animals in climate-controlled compartments, "to conduct a thorough and systematic review" of how to improve the program. Any PetSafe reservations made before Tuesday will be honored, but the program will be shuttered from now on.

United already said it would review its animal transport system before making the announcement Tuesday. It's decided to introduce color-coded tags to identify carry-on pets as one solution to the overheard compartment debacle.

Passengers can still bring small animals as carry-ons during thePetSafereview, which United expects to wrap up by May 1, per its website. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:08 p.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Update 2:26 p.m. ET: The San Antonio police chief told the Austin-American Statesman that he "misspoke when he claimed a second suspicious package was found at a FedEx facility in Schertz." A second device was not found, and The Washington Post has likewise amended their reporting. Our original article appears below.

Police have discovered a second explosive device at a FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas, where an early morning explosion left one employee injured, The Washington Post reports. The second device had not yet detonated when it was uncovered by the police, and authorities hope it will offer clues to help identify a suspect believed to be serially bombing residents of Austin, where the devices at the Schertz facility were reportedly headed.

The Schertz police chief told reporters that investigators are "confident that neither this facility nor any location in the Schertz area was the target" of Tuesday's bombs.

To date, the Austin bombings have killed two people and injured an additional four. "In bomb investigations, unexploded devices can be critical to narrowing the search for suspects, because the materials used to assemble the device can be traced back to the supplier — and, in many cases, the individual purchaser," writes The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

1:50 p.m. ET

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified on her department's budget before the House Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday, on the heels of her disastrous appearance on 60 Minutes last week. The hearing did not go much better: DeVos found herself facing a hostile crowd of Democrats, who expressed open frustration with her lack of answers. Watch some of the most uncomfortable moments below. Jeva Lange

Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.): Is there some problem? Yes or no. Will you guarantee—

DeVos: I think I've been clear—

Clark: Then say yes or no!

DeVos: Yes!

Clark: Okay, great. Thank you. Wow, it took a year.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.): Madam Secretary, you just don't care much about the civil rights of black and brown children. This is horrible.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.): What's the best way to prevent another young person from taking lives at the hands of a gun?

DeVos: I think there are a number of ways to address this, the president has been very clear in his focus.

DeLauro: What are they?

DeVos: There are ways to prevent young people from getting guns, who should not be having guns, from having them.

Clark: What about after-school programs? You also eliminated the 21st Century Community Centers, that's 80,000 kids in Florida alone.

DeVos: … There's no data to show [after-school programs] are effective in what the stated goal has been —

Clark: What do you mean there is no data? There is study after study after study.

1:39 p.m. ET

A Scottish man who was arrested after he trained a dog to give a Nazi salute was found guilty of a hate crime Tuesday.

In 2016, Mark Meechan posted a video that showed him teaching his girlfriend's pug to raise his paw upon hearing "sieg heil" or "gas the Jews." The video was viewed more than a million times. Meechan defended his behavior as a way to prank his girlfriend, and said after he was arrested that he doesn't "actually hate Jewish people."

In the video, Meechan says that his girlfriend often talked about "how cute" her dog was, "so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing I could think of, which is a Nazi." But officials in the U.K. disagreed that it was a harmless joke. The judge involved in the case said that Meechan "knew that the material was offensive" and that he must have known it was "grossly offensive to many Jewish people," reports The Jewish Chronicle.

Meechan's sentencing will take place in April. Read more at The Jewish Chronicle. Summer Meza

1:32 p.m. ET

The first trailer for the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood documentary is here, and it's a tearjerker.

Won't You By My Neighbor follows the classic children's show from its low-budget start on a Pittsburgh public TV station to earning its place in pop culture history. It promises an inside look at how Fred Rogers introduced tough topics to children, how he used the show as a vehicle for equality, and an explanation for his welcome message that became documentary's title.

It also promises to give you goosebumps.

Tuesday would've been Rogers' 90th birthday, and there are a few other ways to celebrate beyond watching the trailer: Twitch is hosting a marathon of the show, while Entertainment Weekly picked up fresh details on another Rogers-inspired film, You Are My Friend. The latter film is not a biopic, director Marielle Heller insists, and stars Tom Hanks as Rogers as he befriends a "cynical journalist."

We're still waiting for a glimpse of Hanks in a cardigan, but in the meantime, you can watch the trailer for Won't You By My Neighbor below. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:14 p.m. ET
Brad Barket/Getty Images

Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn dismissed Cynthia Nixon as being an "unqualified lesbian" after the actress announced she is going to challenge New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. Quinn, who made her comments to the New York Post, also expressed irritation that Nixon endorsed her Democratic primary opponent for New York City mayor in 2013, Bill de Blasio.

"Cynthia Nixon was opposed to having a qualified lesbian become mayor of New York City," Quinn said. "Now she wants to be an unqualified lesbian to be the governor of New York. You have to be qualified and have experience. She isn't qualified to be the governor."

Quinn additionally praised Cuomo, saying the incumbent has "accomplished [a lot] including a $15 minimum wage" and "opposing fracking."

Nixon responded to Quinn in a statement, saying "her being a lesbian and my being a lesbian" is not the issue, and that the race is about "the corruption in Albany."

Cuomo has also taken shots at Nixon, a former Sex and the City star, telling reporters: "If it's just about name recognition, I'm hoping that Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Billy Joel don't get into the race."

Update 2:57 p.m.: Christine Quinn has apologized for her remark in a series of tweets: "To be clear, Cynthia Nixon's identity had no bearing on her candidacy and it was not my intention to suggest it did," she said. "I want to be clear about that. I would never, EVER criticize someone because of their identity." Read her full response here. Jeva Lange

12:28 p.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Trump administration appointees directed the cancellation of a successful teen pregnancy prevention program, despite opposition from Department of Health and Human Services experts, an NBC News report found.

The federal Teen Pregnancy Program was abruptly ended in August 2017, after seven years spent training more than 7,000 health-care workers and 3,000 organizations, NBC News reports. The $213 million program helped lead to an all-time low in teen pregnancies and had bipartisan and medical expert support.

But HHS employees newly appointed by the Trump administration worked to end it in favor of pro-abstinence programs, NBC News reports. Internal notes and emails obtained by NBC News found that appointees overrode career HHS experts' objections and violated federal laws, making decisions that obstructed the authority of Congress. In one note from July 2017, the director of the Office of Adolescent Health — which oversaw the Teen Pregnancy Program — wrote that she was told that her "responsibility" was to "implement the administration's agenda, whether we like it or not," and that she should "get in line."

HHS officials said that the shuttered teen pregnancy program was ineffective and did not fit within President Trump's proposed budget. Experts counter that a substantial amount of the program's funding had already been invested, and terminating the program meant wasting millions in taxpayer money that had been put towards partially-completed research.

Trump administration appointees included Teresa Manning, an anti-abortion activist, and Victoria Huber, who ran abstinence-only and religion-based sex education programs in Ohio. Read the full report at NBC News. Summer Meza

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