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Riker's Island inmate found 'baked to death' in his cell

Jerome Murdough
© AP Photo/Jason DeCrow
In this March 12, 2014 photo, Alma Murdough and her daughter Cheryl Warner hold a photo of Murdough's son, at her home in the Queens borough of New York
Jerome Murdough was just looking for a warm place to sleep on a chilly night last month when he curled up in an enclosed stairwell on the roof of a Harlem public housing project where he was arrested for trespassing.

A week later, the mentally ill homeless man was found dead in a Rikers Island jail cell that four city officials say had overheated to at least 100 degrees, apparently because of malfunctioning equipment.

The officials told The Associated Press that the 56-year-old former Marine was on anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medication, which may have made him more vulnerable to heat. He also apparently did not open a small vent in his cell, as other inmates did, to let in cool air.

"He basically baked to death," said one of the officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to discuss specifics of the case.

The medical examiner's office said an autopsy was inconclusive and that more tests were needed to determine Murdough's exact cause of death. But the officials, all with detailed knowledge of the case, say initial indications from the autopsy and investigation point to extreme dehydration or heat stroke

Chalkboard

Education revolt - Teachers boycott standardized testing, stir up nation-wide movement

teachers boycott standardized testing
© Betty Udesen
Kris McBride, Garfield's academic dean and testing coordinator, at left, and Jesse Hagopian, Garfield history teacher and a leader of the school's historic test boycott.
Parents, students, and teachers all over the country have joined the revolt to liberate our kids from a test-obsessed education system.

Life felt eerie for teachers at Seattle's Garfield High in the days following their unanimous declaration of rebellion last winter against standardized testing. Their historic press conference, held on a Thursday, had captured the attention of national TV and print media. But by midday Monday, they still hadn't heard a word from their own school district's leadership.

Then an email from Superintendent José Banda hit their in-boxes. Compared with a starker threat issued a week later, with warnings of 10-day unpaid suspensions, this note was softly worded. But its message was clear: a teacher boycott of the district's most-hated test - the MAP, short for Measures of Academic Progress - was intolerable.

Jittery teachers had little time to digest the implications before the lunch bell sounded, accompanied by an announcement over the intercom: a Florida teacher had ordered them a stack of hot pizzas, as a gesture of solidarity.

"It was a powerful moment," said history teacher Jesse Hagopian, a boycott leader. "That's when we realized this wasn't just a fight at Garfield; this was something going on across the nation. If we back down, we're not just backing away from a fight for us. It's something that educators all over see as their struggle too. I think a lot of teachers steeled their resolve, that we had to continue."

Parents, students, and teachers all over the country soon would join the "Education Spring" revolt. As the number of government-mandated tests multiplies, anger is mounting over wasted school hours, "teaching to the test," a shrinking focus on the arts, demoralized students, and perceptions that teachers are being unjustly blamed for deeply rooted socioeconomic problems.

"You're seeing a tremendous backlash," said Carol Burris, award-winning principal of South Side High School in New York City and an education blogger for The Washington Post. "People are on overload. They are angry at the way data and testing are being used to disrupt education."

Cow Skull

Grasping at straws: Expert believes missing Malaysian Airlines flight being held for ransom

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© CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty Images
A personnel of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue checks the map during a search in the Andaman sea area around northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra island for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 on March 17, 2014.
Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 is no closer to being found as the disappearance of the Boeing 777 carrying 239 people nears its two-week mark.

Pilot suicide, terrorism and hijacking are some possibilities that are being theorized to the plane as the search area expanded to 7 million square miles. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last week that "there are a number of possible scenarios that are being investigated as to what happened to the flight."

Rick Mathews, of the National Center for Security & Preparedness at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy of SUNY Albany, tells CBSDC that there is another theory that should be put into play: the missing flight is being held for ransom by a group of individuals, maybe including people from the flight crew.

"You want to most likely hide the plane so that it will not be seen and get these people away from there. You want a place to prove life, confirm the fact that they are alive without giving away their location," Mathews told CBSDC, adding that this was an "internal hijacking" that might have been perpetrated by one or more members of the crew.

Cut

Disunited states of America: In Crimea's footsteps, 29 U.S. states want to be independent

world map
© SXC.hu
Over 300,000 US citizens ,which represent a total of 29 states, have signed petitions for their states to withdraw from the United States of America.

They make references to the Declaration of Independence, whereby a situation may emerge when it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, to ensure security and happiness, the federal media report.

They want to be granted the right to peacefully secede from the United States or allowed the holding of a referendum on such secession. Those who have signed the petition feel that President Obama's economic reforms have proved ineffective. They claim the government has violated the rights and freedoms of Americans in the past two years.

Texas, a state boasting the best economic performance, was the first to start the secession movement. Almost 70,000 Texans had signed the petition on the White House website by Monday. They want Barack Obama to allow their state to peacefully withdraw from the United States of America, or allow them to hold a referendum on secession. They explained to the President that they have been prompted to seek self-determination by the federal authorities' inappropriate policy, weak economic reforms and the obvious violations of Americans' rights. The petitions are signed both by Republicans, the once loyal to Obama African Americans and liberals from 29 states.

Heart - Black

Woman sentenced to 14 years in prison for amassing massive child porn stash on her computer

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© Facebook
She lived in a 4,000-square foot, $1.4 million home and drove a bright green Camaro with vanity plates that read "MY SYN," but prosecutors said grandmother Erika Perdue's opulent lifestyle wasn't her darkest vice.

Perdue, who pleaded guilty to charges of trading and shipping child porn last year, was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison on Monday.

"I lost two granddaughters to this," Perdue said in court Monday, according to the Dallas Morning News.

According to court records, the 43-year-old Dallas socialite downloaded and traded child pornography every day for 13 years while her successful lawyer husband was at work.

The Dallas Morning News reports that the activity only stopped once federal agents raided her home and arrested her in April 2012, finding more than 4,000 illicit images on her computer.

Heart - Black

Woman who had sex with 8-year-old boy 50 times sentenced to just 2 years in prison

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© PETER SUMMERS / NEWSTEAM/PETER SUMMERS / NEWSTEAM
Loren Morris, now 21, was sentenced Tuesday to a year in prison after repeatedly sexually abusing a child.
A 21-year-old woman was sentenced to two years in prison for having forced sexual intercourse with an 8-year-old boy 50 times.

Loren Morris, who was 16 when the abuse started five years ago, was given the sentence on Tuesday, a month after she was convicted at trial at Worcester Crown Court in England. The abuse lasted two years and came to light after the child was heard bragging about the encounters at school.

The Daily Mail reports that Judge Robert Juckes QC gave Morris a more lenient sentence because she stopped sexually assaulting the boy after she realized it was "wrong."

"I take into account what has been said to me and the fact that you stopped the activity yourself," Juckes said in open court. "You realized it was wrong rather than being caught and forced to stop."

Health

Woman dies after injecting vaseline into her breasts

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An Argentine woman died after she reportedly injected herself with Vaseline in an attempt to give herself a breast augmentation.

Sonia Perez Llanzon, 39, suffered a pulmonary embolism -- or blot clot in her lungs -- and died several weeks after she reportedly injected herself with the petroleum jelly, according to a Huffington Post translation of La Capital.

In an article dated March 18, the Argentine newspaper reports that Llanzon went to a Santa Rosa hospital after she developed difficulty breathing. Doctors said she initially denied injecting herself, but later admitted that she'd tried to give herself a breast augmentation.

Bizarro Earth

Sixth grader suspended for taking self-harming classmate's razor blade

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© WAVY
We teach kids that honesty is the best policy, but at one Virginia Beach middle school it might be better to keep the truth to yourself.

Last Thursday at Bayside Middle School, sixth grader Adrionna Harris came to the aide of a classmate who was cutting his arm. She faces expulsion for taking a razor from the student, throwing it away and convincing him what he was doing wasn't right. She thought she was doing the right thing, so on Friday she told the school administration what happened. The way school officials responded led to this question: was the school's zero tolerance policy taken too far?

Instead of getting praise from the school administration, Adrionna got a 10 day suspension with recommendation for expulsion. The interesting thing - the only reason Adrionna got suspended was because she admitted what happened. The alleged weapon was thrown away, and it was her word alone that led to her suspension.

"I was shocked and surprised. I was very shocked that a student would get suspended for saving another child," said Rachael Harris, Adrionna's mother. "The school system over-reached absolutely."

The school's own details of the event state Adrionna reported the student had a razor blade. She admitted taking it from the student then throwing the blade away.

Radar

Australian military checking 2 objects in search for missing Malaysian plane

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© Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images
In this file photo, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 plane is pictured flying over the Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Indonesia on March 18, 2013.
Four military search planes were dispatched Thursday to determine whether two large objects bobbing in a remote part of the Indian Ocean are debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.

One of the objects spotted by satellite imagery was 24 meters (almost 80 feet) in length and the other was 5 meters (15 feet). There could be other objects in the area, a four-hour flight from Australia's southwestern coast, said John Young, manager of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's emergency response division.

"This is a lead, it's probably the best lead we have right now," Young said. He cautioned that the objects could be seaborne debris along a shipping route where containers can fall off cargo vessels, although the larger object is longer than a container.

Young told a news conference in Canberra, Australia's capital, that planes had been sent to the area about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth to check on the objects. He said satellite images "do not always turn out to be related to the search even if they look good, so we will hold our views on that until they are sighted close-up."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier told Parliament about the debris, and said Orion search aircraft had been dispatched.

Arrow Down

Too much inequality could lead the West to a Roman Empire-style fall says NASA

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© AFP/Getty Images
Few think Western civilization is on the brink of collapse - but it's also doubtful the Romans and Mesopotamians saw their own demise coming either.

If we're to avoid their fate, we'll need policies to reduce economic inequality and preserve natural resources, according to a NASA-funded study that looked at the collapses of previous societies.

"Two important features seem to appear across societies that have collapsed," reads the study. "The stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity and the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses."

In unequal societies, researchers said, "collapse is difficult to avoid.... Elites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society."