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The World's Weirdest Mammal Keeps Surprising Scientists

Naked mole rats are like bees, lizards and, it turns out, plants.
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  • An inmate was shot and killed Wednesday after authorities said he grabbed a deputy's gun and fired it at Nashville's 100 Oaks Mall, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news In a tweet around 2 p.m. local time, Vanderbilt University officials wrote that a shooting was reported at the 100 Oaks Mall campus of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
  • A California man accused of killing his missing 5-year-old son laughed and attempted to joke with a Las Vegas judge Tuesday during an extradition hearing. Aramazd Andressian Sr., 35, of South Pasadena, was arrested Friday and charged with murder in the presumed death of his son, Aramazd Andressian Jr., who has been missing since April. Andressian, who authorities believe was preparing to flee to a country that would not extradite him back to the U.S., is being held in lieu of a $10 million bond.  Investigators had Andressian taken into custody in Las Vegas, where he lived on and off in the two months since his son was last seen, to prevent his potential flight. Reporters from KTLA in Los Angeles were in a courtroom there on Tuesday for Andressian’s extradition hearing.  Video from the news station showed Andressian, who had recently shaved off his beard and dyed his dark hair blond, smiling and laughing with fellow inmates. During Andressian’s time before the bench, the judge asked him if he intended to fight extradition.  “No, I never came here in an attempt to flee,” Andressian said.  When the judge mentioned the California media present in the courtroom, Andressian joked that the reporters could take him back with them.  KTLA reported that Aramazd Andressian Jr., whose nickname was Piqui, was last seen leaving Disneyland with his father around 1 a.m. April 21. Andressian told authorities he took his son to the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area in Santa Barbara County later that morning. Though investigators did find evidence that Andressian was at the lake that day, there were no sightings of Piqui.   The boy’s mother, Ana Estevez, reported him missing on April 22 when Andressian failed to show up for the scheduled custody exchange of their son. The Los Angeles Times reported that Andressian was found unconscious that same day in a South Pasadena park. His gray 2004 BMW was doused in gasoline, the Times said. Authorities said Andressian had taken prescription pills in what they believe was an attempted suicide.  Though he was initially held in his son’s disappearance, he was later released due to lack of evidence. Andressian, who said he didn’t know what happened to his son, stopped cooperating and hired a lawyer, authorities said.  >> Read more trending news Investigators have said little about the circumstantial evidence against Andressian, but have said that, as Estevez, multiple law enforcement agencies and volunteers searched in vain for the boy, Andressian was instead “socializing” in Las Vegas. “He was taking part in activities and displaying mannerisms that were not consistent with a grieving parent,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Joe Mendoza said Monday at a news conference.  Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said at the news conference that trying a murder case without a victim’s body has challenges, but that her office has prosecuted similar cases successfully in the past.  “It may seem unusual to file murder charges when we have not yet found the child’s body,” Lacey said. “But rest assured, my office has successfully prosecuted such cases before.” Investigators said they believe that Andressian killed his son in a “pre-planned event” because of an acrimonious divorce from his ex-wife. Estevez released a statement about the loss of her son, the Times reported.  “My heart is shattered, and I will miss my son immensely each and every second of every day for the rest of my life,” she said. “Piqui was everything great in my life, and I cannot imagine the emptiness and void that I will bear until we are together again someday.” A $30,000 reward is being offered for information on Piqui’s disappearance. 
  • He's accused of robbing two businesses only a few minutes apart.   The Jacksonville Beach Police Department has arrested Andrew Harrison, 32, after witnesses from both scenes positively identified him as the suspect. Police say Harrison first entered the Pet Supermarket at 609 Beach Boulevard Wednesday afternoon, where he gave the clerk a note demanding money and stating that he had a gun.   He then allegedly took the money and ran across the street to Sunrise Surf Shop, located at 834 Beach Boulevard.   But when he presented a clerk there with the same note demanding money, several male employees chased him off.   Police arrested Harrison a short time later behind European Street Cafe, after a foot pursuit.   No injuries were reported in either robbery.
  • A potentially lethal parasite has been found in pockets of Florida, including St. Johns County.  University of Florida researchers say rat lungworm was detected in St. Johns, Alachua, Leon, Orange, and Hillsborough counties. Those behind the study believe it’s likely there are more counties affected, as the parasite expands its geographic range.  Rat lungworm is carried by rats and snails and can cause meningitis. It can be contracted by both humans and animals, through eating infected snails, frogs, or crustaceans. Symptoms include headache, stiff neck, fever, vomiting, nausea, and paralysis of the face and limbs. The fatality rate in humans is low, according to UF researchers, but could lead to meningitis, which could escalate to coma or death. The parasite generally manifests in animals as limb weakness, paralysis, neck pain, central nervous system problems, and potentially meningitis.  Researchers say the parasite is apparently able to infect multiple snail species, which could include native populations. Rat lungworm further thrives in a tropical climate, so rising temperatures could facilitate its spread.  More than 2,800 cases of human rat lungworm have been documented worldwide, although researchers believe the actual number of cases to be higher. There have been no human infections in Florida.  To lower the risk of infection, you’re urged to wash produce and use caution when eating snails or undercooked frogs or crustaceans. You should also warn your children against handling snails. You can protect pets and livestock by checking living spaces and water troughs for snails. Additionally, use extreme caution around rats.
  • Trying to turn the focus more to the actions of the Obama Administration in 2016, several Republican Senators joined President Donald Trump in criticizing President Obama’s reaction to Russian meddling in last year’s elections, saying at a hearing that the former President didn’t do enough to raise alarms about Moscow’s efforts. “He stood idly by – as we heard today – in the 2016 election,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The Obama Administration did not take the significant actions that were needed,” added Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID). “You know, he was aware that this was going on.” The comments from GOP Senators came after a series of tweets in recent days by the President, where Mr. Trump publicly acknowledged that there had been meddling by the Russians, as he pointed the finger of blame squarely at the former President for allowing it. The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win.. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2017 The hearing represented the most direct criticism that President Obama has received in Congress on the matter. “I would call it behind the scenes, ineffective and tardy,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). “It wasn’t really until after the elections that sanctions were imposed,” Collins added. But at the same hearing, President Trump’s dealings with Moscow did not escape notice, as a key witness bemoaned the current administration’s lack of focus on Russian meddling. “The Obama Administration should have taken greater action, but the more pertinent question today is what our current President is not doing,” said Nicholas Burns, a former State Department official who served in key posts for Presidents of both parties. Burns said it was dismaying that “President Trump continues to deny the undeniable fact that Russia launched a major cyber attack against the United States.” Burns, who was a Russian expert for the first President Bush, and a NATO official for the second Bush Administration, did not spare the Obama Administration either. “We should have had a more immediate response that was painful to the Russians,” Burns said. “I think that President Obama – with hindsight – should have acted more resolutely,” Burns added. In an extended exchange, Sen. Risch tried to get Burns to lay the blame for election interference squarely on President Obama. “Who was President of the United States when that occurred?” Risch asked. “That was President Obama – as you know,” Burns said with a note of disdain in his voice, as he circled back at times to raise questions about why President Trump has said so little about Russian interference. “President Trump has refused to launch an investigation of his own,” Burns said. “He’s not made this an issue in our relations with the Russians.”

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