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March 19, 2018

On Sunday night, an explosion of some kind injured two men in their 20s in southwest Austin, according to Austin-Travis County Emergency Management Services. In a short press briefing, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said it is not yet clear if the explosion is related to the three package bombs that killed two people and injured another on March 2 and March 12 in eastern and northern Austin. The two people injured on Sunday night suffered "significant" but apparently "non-life-threatening" injuries, he added, and police and FBI agents are working to "clear" a suspicious backpack from the area. Manley urged residents within a half-mile of the blast to remain indoors until at least morning.

"Do not touch any packages or anything that looks like a package — do not even go near it at this time," Manley told residents. "Given the darkness we have not had an opportunity to really look at this blast site to determine what has happened." Earlier Sunday, Manley raised the reward for information leading to the arrest of the bomber to $115,000 from $50,000. He said investigators haven't ruled out any motive and don't yet have any clear idea of "what the ideology is behind this."

Update 2:55 ET: Manley said in a second press briefing early Monday that the explosion, believed to be some sort of bomb, may have been set off by a trip wire. The victims were riding or pushing bikes. He said police are waiting until daylight to examine the blast scene. "We are working under the belief that this is related to the other bombing incidents" in March, Manley said, and a chemical analysis of the explosion will probably provide the conclusive evidence. Peter Weber

4:39 p.m. ET
Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Politicon

MSNBC host Joy Reid is under fire for shockingly bigoted posts that appeared on her now-defunct blog under her byline. Reid has claimed that hackers conspired to make her appear homophobic, telling Mediaite on Monday that a trove of anti-LGBT posts on her old blog were "fabricated" by nefarious actors who want to "taint her character."

Reid apologized last December for a series of homophobic posts that were unearthed by Twitter user @Jamie_Maz from her website The Reid Report, explaining that her views on LGBT issues had changed over the years. The offending posts were written between 2007 and 2009. But last week, Maz reported finding several more anti-gay posts using the Wayback Machine, which pulls archives of old internet content even if it's been deleted. While Reid has taken her old blog off of the internet, Maz was able to find posts that included references to finding gay sex "gross," suggestions that gay men are prone to pedophilia, and lists of people in politics and media who Reid joked or suggested were gay.

Reid denied writing the posts, telling Mediaite that "an unknown, external party accessed and manipulated material" from her old blog "to include offensive and hateful references that are fabricated and run counter to my personal beliefs and ideology." Reid said she notified law enforcement officials of the activity.

But the Wayback Machine did not find any evidence of hacking, the site explained in a blog post Tuesday, after conducting a review at the request of Reid's lawyers in December. Read more at Mediaite. Summer Meza

3:50 p.m. ET
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

If the U.S. pulls out of the Iran nuclear deal, there's no reason for Iran to stay in it either, the country's foreign minister told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Earlier that same day, President Trump gave every indication that the U.S. is out.

French President Emmanuel Macron lobbied Trump to preserve the deal during Macron's White House visit Tuesday, per BBC. Trump proceeded to call the deal "insane," reflecting his months-long intention to rescind the U.S.'s involvement in the 2015 deal signed by former President Barack Obama to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.

But if the U.S. is out, "there won't be any deal for Iran to stay in," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told AP. It'll also show that the U.S. doesn't keep its promises and could hurt talks with North Korea, he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit the White House on Friday to hopefully convince Trump to reverse his position on the deal. British Prime Minister Theresa May could stop by too, and even Russia backs the deal, per CNN.

Trump has until May 12 to decide if the U.S. will stay in the deal or reimpose sanctions on Iran instead. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:49 p.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There are about 700 types of bacteria that live in the human mouth. It might seem alarming, but these microorganisms are typically harmless, and some of them even safeguard your mouth against infection. But bad news for heavy drinkers: If you're in the habit of having more than one drink per day, you might be throwing off the balance of these tiny creatures.

A study published Tuesday in the journal Microbiome revealed that over time, alcohol can permanently alter the ecosystem inside your mouth, suppressing the effects of protective bacteria while providing a convenient breeding ground for disease-causing ones, Time reported. People who consume large quantities of alcohol are additionally more likely to risk everything from gingivitis to even certain types of cancer, compared to those who don't drink.

The study observed 1,044 American adults, 270 of whom didn't drink at all, 614 of whom drank moderately, and 160 of whom drank heavily (defined as more than two drinks a day for men, and more than one drink a day for women). Drinkers had higher levels of three strains of bacteria that cause diseases "including cancers of the head, neck, esophagus, and pancreas," Time explained.

Of course, the case isn't completely solved, said study author Jiyoung Ahn, an epidemiologist at the NYU School of Medicine. Further investigation will be required, including more studies on the specific effects that beer, wine, and hard liquor have on the mouth.

But for now, it's "pretty much safe to say that alcohol influences the oral microbiome," Ahn explained. So you might want to consider taking an extra shift as designated driver soon. Read more about this study at Time. Shivani Ishwar

2:36 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, White House physician Ronny Jackson, is deciding whether to drop out of consideration, Trump told reporters Tuesday.

The Senate on Monday postponed Jackson's confirmation hearing following allegations that he drank excessively on the job, improperly dispensed medications, and created a hostile work environment, The Washington Post reports. Lawmakers were reportedly also concerned that Jackson is unqualified for the position because he lacks large-scale management skills.

Trump said that Jackson is "making a decision" on whether to remain in the mix, noting that "if I were him, I wouldn't do it." Trump said that he hadn't heard of the "particular allegations," but that he'd still support Jackson if he decided not to withdraw his nomination. "I don't think personally he should do it," Trump said of Jackson, characterizing a possible Senate investigation as an "ugly" and "disgusting" process. "What does he need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians?"

Jackson has told reporters that he wants to go through with a confirmation hearing. If Trump doesn't ask him to drop out, his hearing will be delayed until May at the earliest, CNN's Manu Raju notes, after senators complete an investigation into his qualifications and alleged misconduct. Summer Meza

2:25 p.m. ET

Jazz musician turned Schoolhouse Rock! composer Bob Dorough died Monday at 94, WNEP reported.

And he was more than just a Bill … er, Bob.

Dorough kicked off his career in 1956 with an album titled Devil May Care. Miles Davis rerecorded the title track and turned it into a jazz standard, per NPR.

Despite that success, Dorough still had a day job at an advertising agency with a boss whose kids couldn't remember multiplication tables. Dorough's boss asked Dorough to set the math to music, and Schoolhouse Rock! was born.

After penning Three is a Magic Number and other multiplication hits, Schoolhouse Rock! was sold to ABC and Dorough stayed on to continue writing educational jams. He didn't love creating grammar songs, per NPR, but Conjunction Junction still became one of his most well-known tunes.

Celebrate Dorough's legacy with this live performance of Conjunction Junction in 2014. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:07 p.m. ET

When news broke that French President Emmanuel Macron was coming to visit President Trump at the White House, there was really only one question on everybody's minds:

Macron and Trump have a history of weirdly aggressive handshakes. Sure enough, this trip hasn't disappointed:

Enjoy a visual history of Trump's most awkward handshakes here. Jeva Lange

1:41 p.m. ET
PURPLE MARBLES/Alamy Stock Photo

If the idea of Amazon opening your front door to deliver a package is a little uncomfortable, just let them pop your car trunk instead.

The company is launching a new version of its Amazon Key, which gives Amazon delivery drivers a special internet-connected key to open customers' front doors, Reuters reported Tuesday. Now, with an app on compatible cars, deliverers can unlock trunks and leave packages there.

Customers in 37 U.S. cities will soon get to try the new Key, per Reuters. It can hook up to GM's OnStar and other car services, and it's free for Prime customers — unlike the $220 version for in-home deliveries.

Porch thieves, your days are numbered. Kathryn Krawczyk

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