Jury quickly rejects 'too drunk' defense in trial
A Nashville jury has convicted two ex-Vanderbilt University football players of raping a former student, rejecting claims that they were too drunk to know what they were doing. Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey, both 21, face 15 or more years in prison when they are sentenced March 6. The victim, a 21-year-old neuroscience and economics major at the time of the June 2013 attack, testified that the last thing she remembered was Vandenburg giving her drinks at a Nashville nightspot — and that she woke up the next morning in his dorm room, feeling sick and injured. Jurors saw the players' own graphic cellphone images that put them at the scene. Vandenburg could be heard laughing and encouraging the attack on video he sent to his friends as it was happening. He also passed out condoms. Two other ex-players have yet to stand trial.
King will have to share holiday with Lee
A bid to end Arkansas' practice of commemorating Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. on the same day was rejected Wednesday by a state House committee. The proposal would have removed Lee from the state holiday honoring King. Arkansas is one of three states to jointly celebrate the two on the third Monday in January.
Wrong-way driver was four times over limit
A 39-year-old Phoenix man arrested in a wrong-way freeway accident in which a fire department dispatcher was fatally injured had a blood-alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit, authorities said Wednesday. Stephen Martin's large SUV collided head-on with a small SUV being driven by Megan Lange, a 26-year-old married mother of two. Lange was killed. According to police, a woman who was a passenger in Martin's SUV said she told Martin they were going the wrong way on Interstate 17 but that they couldn't find a place to turn around.
Kim Jong Un will travel to Moscow
President Kim Jong Un of North Korea plans to visit Moscow this May in his first trip abroad since assuming power in 2011, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday. The confirmation came amid a strengthening in ties between the two countries, even as North Korea remains isolated and has seen a chill in relations with its closest ally, China. North Korea has not confirmed the trip, which is scheduled for May 9, coinciding with the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's defeat of Nazi Germany. About 20 state leaders have said they would attend that event. President Barack Obama and President Park Geun Hye of South Korea have both been invited to the ceremony, but have not responded.
Skull adds insight into human evolution
Anthropologists exploring a cave in Israel have uncovered a rare 55,000-year-old skull fossil that they say has a story to tell of a reverberating transition in human evolution, in the time and place when some early humans were moving out of Africa and apparently interbreeding with Neanderthals. From the new fossil find, which could be closely related to the first modern humans to colonize Stone Age Europe, it appears that these people already had physical traits a bit different from the Africans they were leaving behind and many other human inhabitants along the corridor. The discovery in Manot Cave, in western Galilee, made in 2008 but subjected to years of rigorous analysis, was reported Wednesday in the journal Nature by an international team of researchers led by Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University.
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