VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press
PROSECUTORS GETTING TO MOTIVE IN FORT HOOD TRIAL
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- The prosecutors pursuing the death penalty against the Army psychiatrist accused in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage will soon begin trying to answer a difficult but key question: Why did Maj. Nidal Hasan attack his fellow soldiers in the worst mass shooting ever on a U.S. military base?
Both sides offered a few hints so far. Although he's been mostly silent in the courtroom, Hasan used his brief opening statement to tell jurors he had "switched sides" in what he called America's war with Islam and he later leaked documents to the media showing he believed he could be a martyr.
Military prosecutors opened the trial by saying they would show that Hasan felt he had a "jihad duty," referring to a Muslim term for a religious war or struggle. After calling almost 80 witnesses over two weeks, prosecutors said Friday they would begin tackling the question this week.
How much they can say to jurors, however, may be limited by the judge. Even though plenty of information about Hasan's extremist views has been published outside the courtroom since the rampage, the 13 military officers on the jury said they had not closely followed the case and wouldn't read news coverage during the trial.
Prosecutors asked the military judge, Col. Tara Osborn, on Friday to approve evidence and several witnesses to explain Hasan's mindset. Such evidence includes references to Hasan Akbar, a Muslim soldier sentenced to death for attacking fellow soldiers in Kuwait during the 2003 Iraq invasion.
MARINE APPEALING NCAA RULE STOPPING HIM FROM PLAY
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — A Middle Tennessee freshman who finished five years of active service in the Marines this summer is appealing an NCAA rule preventing him from playing this season because he played in a recreational league in the military.
According to The Daily News Journal (http://on.dnj.com/14Y6mD9), the rule essentially says student-athletes who do not enroll in college within a year of graduating high school will be charged one year of collegiate eligibility for every academic year they participate in organized competition.
By NCAA standards, Steven Rhodes' play at the Marine base counted as "organized competition" because there were game officials, team uniforms and the score was kept.
But the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Marine sergeant said the recreational league was nothing close to organized.
"Man, it was like intramurals for us," said the 24-year-old. "There were guys out there anywhere from 18 to 40-something years old. The games were spread out. We once went six weeks between games."
The rule first took shape in 1980, when "participation in organized competition during times spent in the armed services, on official church missions or with recognized foreign aid services of the U.S. government" were exempt from limiting eligibility.
But through several revisions and branches of the rule, the clause allowing competition during military service was lost and not carried over into the current bylaws.
SILICON VALLEY KEENLY AWAITS LATEST LEGO ROBOT KIT
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Few are more excited about Lego's new Mindstorms sets rolling out next month than Silicon Valley engineers.
Many of them were drawn to the tech sector by the flagship kits that came on the market in 1998, introducing computerized movement to the traditional snap-together toy blocks and allowing the young innovators to build their first robots. Now, 15 years later, those robot geeks are entrepreneurs and designers, and the colorful plastic bricks have an outsized influence in their lives.
Techies tinker at Lego play stations in workplaces. Engineers mentor competitive Lego League teams. Designers use them to mock up larger projects ideas. And executives stand Lego creations on their desks alongside family photos.
"Everyone I work with played with them as children. We sit around talking Lego. It's a shared common experience," said Travis Schuh, who reaches into his bin of plastic blocks when he needs a quick prototype at the Silicon Valley medical robotic firm where he works.
The new Mindstorms sets, on sale Sept. 1, are simpler for the younger crowd and more versatile for sophisticated users than two earlier versions.
The sets are designed for kids over 10 and make it easy to build basic, remote-controlled robots, including a cobra-like snake that snaps Lego brick fangs. Some shoot balls, others drive along color-coded lines.
But for $349, far more expensive than typical building toys, customers get a much more complex and powerful system.
"There's actually a lot of engineering that goes into Lego bricks and the systems you can prototype out of them are pretty sophisticated," says Stanford University engineering professor Christian Gerdes, who uses them in his classroom.
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