UPDATE: A U.S. military jury has sentenced Maj. Nidal Hasan to death for shooting 13 fellow soldiers in a 2009 attack on Fort Hood in Texas. The jury issued its verdict after deliberating for just two and a half hours. The decision will now go to an Army general, who will decide whether it is binding. He has the authority to reduce the sentence to life without parole. The military currently has five other prisoners on death row.
OUR EARLIER REPORT (12:25 p.m.): Winding down. Jurors heard closing arguments today in the sentencing phase for the former U.S. Army psychiatrist convicted last week of killing 13 soldiers and wounding 32 more during a 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood in Texas. Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is representing himself, chose not to address the jurors who will decide whether to give him life in prison or the death penalty. Hasan also declined to call any witnesses or make any closing arguments during the trial. His military appointed lawyers, who only serve in an advisory role, tried unsuccessfully to get off the case when it began earlier this month. They said Hasan wanted to get the death penalty. During opening arguments, Hasan told jurors the evidence would undeniably prove him responsible for the attack.
Monster conflagration. Crews battling the massive Rim fire licking at the edge of California’s Yosemite National Park gained ground on Tuesday, raising the containment level to 23 percent. But the blaze continues to spread, covering 290 square miles by Wednesday morning. Heavy smoke has forced school closures in nearby Tuolumne County. Even a local Walmart closed its doors. About 4,200 firefighters are now battling the blaze. Officials with the National Forest Service called it a “monster” and the top fire priority in the nation. The biggest concern is its intensity: Spot fires are leaping three-quarters of a mile out in front of the fire, making it hard to contain.
Faulty measurements. Nuclear regulators in Japan are trying to get a handle on just how much contaminated water leaked out of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in the last month. Officials said initial estimates of 300 metric tons, made by plant operator Tepco, might have been too high. The estimate was based on the amount of contaminated water the company thought the tank contained before it sprung a leak, but officials discovered no one was actually keeping track of tank levels. The Nuclear Regulation Authority classified the spill as a level three incident on the seven-level International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. Despite its downgrade, the leak remains the worst disaster Japan has faced since a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima plant, causing a nuclear meltdown, in 2011.
Role models. Four college football players in New Jersey are getting some much-deserved recognition for their honesty. The men, all members of the William Paterson University football team, went to a Buddy’s Small Lots in Wayne, N.J., on Sunday to buy batteries and a speaker cable. Although the lights were on and the door was unlocked, the store was actually closed. Surveillance camera footage showed the men calling out for a clerk so they could pay for their purchases. When no one came, they left money on the counter, counting out exactly what they owed, and left. The store gave each of them $50 gift card as a sign of gratitude. It’s sad to realize we don’t expect this kind of integrity anymore, but as one of the players told a local television station: Not everyone’s a thief.