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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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The Latest News Headlines

  •   It’s the beginning of snake season in Texas and authorities are warning people to watch out for the reptiles as they emerge from hibernation. >> Read more trending news The Laguna Vista Police Department posted the warning on its Facebook page after a close call between a giant rattler and a group of hikers on a local trail.  Police posted photos of the massive snake and another photo showing a fearless cat staring down a big rattler. Rattlesnakes emerge from hibernation in Texas in March or April, according to the police post. They favor temperatures that remain 60 degrees Fahrenheit or above, and are most active when temperatures reach 80 to 90 degrees.
  • When the federal courthouse doors opened in Downtown Jacksonville Monday morning, prospective jurors crowded around and quietly filed in. By 8:54 a.m., former Congresswoman Corrine Brown was sitting in a courtroom next to her attorney, with a small notepad and pens in front of her, waiting for the people who would decide her future to file in to be screened. While a court order indicated 39 prospective jurors had been summoned for the fraud trial, the instructions laid out Monday morning by Magistrate Judge James R. Klindt put the pool at 65 people. By the time the day was done, 21 of those prospective jurors had been excused. The number will be whittled down to twelve jurors and two alternates, and the court aims to have that done when everything wraps up Tuesday. Brown and two others are accused of collecting more than $800,000 in donations for a group they claimed was a non-profit - One Door For Education - and using the money for personal expenses instead, including travel, car repairs, and events hosted by or held in honor of Brown, who was in Congress at the time. Her two alleged co-conspirators - her former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and the head of One Door Carla Wiley- have both taken plea deals. Brown faces twenty-two charges including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, filing false tax returns, and more. If convicted, she faces more than 350 years in prison. A jury must issue a unanimous verdict to convict. After the list of prospective jurors was passed out to the attorneys, there was a brief break so either side could sort through the information. Brown was actively engaged with her attorney James Smith III during this break, including pointing to different items on the papers that were handed out. Prospective jurors then filed in one-by-one, seated in the order of their randomly assigned number, to face the initial group questioning. For this jury selection process, Klindt told the courtroom he had studied high profile and high publicity cases from the Middle District of Florida and the 11th Circuit to determine the best practices. Even before the standard questions, he asked jurors about any familiarity with Brown, whether they’ve supported her in the past, whether they have any bias toward or against her, whether they know the witnesses who will be called, and similar areas. While there were only a few people who said they knew Brown or had any feelings about her, more than half of the pool- 39 people- had some level of personal knowledge about this case because of conversations, social media, or what they’ve consumed through the news. These questions were laid out in the group setting, with jurors raising their hands, but not providing much additional detail initially. Individual questioning then followed, where the court got a better idea of the range of knowledge about the case and, more importantly, whether that information has led the prospective jurors to form an opinion on guilt or innocence, and if that opinion could be set aside to consider only the evidence presented as trial and the instructions provided by the court. The court also probed deeper in to any “extreme hardship” that would prevent a juror from committing to this trial, with most of those relating to medical or financial issues. The extended questioning was done individually because Klindt specifically said he wanted to be careful that anything a prospective juror has to say will not influence others. In all, 45 prospective jurors in the 65 person pool were questioned through Monday, specifically about this case. 21 were excused “for cause”. The remaining 24, along with the 20 people who didn’t face questioning today will return Tuesday for the second phase of screening. That will involve the standard questioning, like personal information of the prospective jurors, whether they’ve served on a jury before and other areas. Before that second phase, though, Klindt has decided to add another ten or so prospective jurors to the pool. They’ll be individually questioned to start the day, and any remaining after that will join the group of 44 rolled over from today. In addition to strikes “for cause”, attorneys have a set number of “peremptory” strikes they can exercise when questioning is done. The attorneys for both sides have been allowed to ask questions of the prospective jurors as well, through the process so far. WOKV is inside the federal courthouse as these proceedings move forward. Check back frequently at WOKV.com for updates.
  • A central Florida woman has been charged in the death of her 18-month-old daughter, accused of strangling the toddler with a string of Halloween lights last Nov.  >> Read more trending news Kristen DePasquale, 27, faces charges of premeditated murder and child abuse. The mother told police officers that she is innocent, and claims her 2-year-old son is responsible, according to CBS News. >> Related: Man threatens teens with gun over noisy car, punches them When officers arrived to DePasquale’s home in Oviedo they found her daughter unconscious on the living-room floor with “deep grooves” around her neck, CBS reported. Medical officials tried to perform CPR on the child, but attempts to revive her were unsuccessful. Police believe the weapon used on the infant was a string of pumpkin-shaped Halloween lights that were hanging on the sliding glass doors of the home.  >> Related: Woman bites nail salon manager, threatens customers with pen The medical examiner said that the marks on the toddler’s neck “was so deep it required more force than a 2 1/2-year-old boy could muster,” CBS reported. The examiner also concluded that the girl was strangled for four to six minutes. But DePasquale’s attorneys claim that the boy confessed to his mother before officers arrived and then to a child-welfare worker three days later. Prosecutors said they do not believe the boy’s confession is credible, according to CBS News.  DePasquale has no criminal history or record of child abuse with the Florida Department of Children and Families, media outlets reported. 
  • A spokesman for former President George H.W. Bush said the 92-year-old will remain under observation at a Houston hospital for a few more days after he was admitted last week with a mild case of pneumonia. >> Read more trending news Bush was taken to Houston Methodist Hospital on April 14 with a persistent cough, spokesman James McGrath said. Doctors determined that the 41st president had pneumonia and successfully treated him. McGrath said in a statement Monday that Bush’s medical team hopes he will be released by the end of the week. McGrath said Friday that Bush would remain hospitalized over the weekend as a precaution. He and his wife, Barbara Bush, are scheduled to travel to Maine soon, and doctors want to “ensure (he has) a fully clean bill of health,” McGrath said. >> Related: George H.W. Bush gets a visit from son George W. Bush while in the hospital “President Bush feels terrific and is buoyed by regular visits from his family and phone calls with friends such as (former Vice  President) Dan Quayle,” he said. McGrath said on Wednesday that Bush “continues to gain strength.” “Mr. Bush had a good night’s rest and his spirits are high,” McGrath said. “Although he will not be discharged today, he is already looking forward to going home to Mrs. Bush, who has been constantly by his side.” The hospitalization is the second this year for Bush. He was hospitalized for two weeks in January with a case of bacterial pneumonia. His wife, Barbara Bush, was also briefly hospitalized with viral bronchitis.
  • Supermarket chain Albertsons is exploring a possible takeover of Austin-based Whole Foods Market, the Financial Times is reporting, citing unnamed sources. Albertsons, which operates about 2,200 stores, is controlled by buyout group Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus has had preliminary talks with bankers about making a bid for Whole Foods, the Financial Times reported, citing a person close to the buyout firm. No formal bid has yet been made, according to two people briefed on the situation. >> Read more trending news Whole Foods’ shares jumped more than 4 percent in afternoon trading following the Financial Times’ report. The reported interest from Albertsons comes about two weeks after investment group Jana Partners revealed it had built a 9 percent stake in Whole Foods and raised the possibility of either a management shakeup or even a sale for the company. Whole Foods has a current market value of about $11 billion. Also, online retail giant Amazon last year considered making a takeover bid for Austin-based Whole Foods Market Inc., but decided not to pursue a deal, Bloomberg news service reported last week. >> Related: Lawsuit claims Whole Foods managers fired for whistle-blowing A number of factors, including intensified competition, have hit the Austin-based Whole Foods hard, leading to struggles in recent quarters. A March report from a Barclays analyst, for instance, suggested Whole Foods had lost 14 million customers since 2015 - many of them to Kroger, which has stepped up its organic offerings. >> Related: Amazon considered bid to buy Whole Foods Founded in Austin in 1978, Whole Foods has 462 stores worldwide and 87,000 employees. In its fiscal first quarter, Whole Foods recorded record sales of $4.9 billion, but saw its net income decline and also lowered its earnings projections for the year.    

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